Thursday, December 18, 2008

What is Microfinance? First thing I think of is...

I thought I'd do a little informal research and get an idea of what people think microfinance is all about.

I asked the question over on Linkedin and so far answers include:

"Microfinance is basically purchases made in small bundles. Like in $0.10 increments. It is very popular already in video games and on social networks.

"When I hear "microfinance," I think of small loans given to people who are starting small businesses, or who are located in poor areas or countries.

"it's about businesses too small to be in the crosshairs of a bank, much less an angel investor. Yet some businesses just need a few hundred bucks to get going, if you can believe it.

"I think "boring". I am more interested in the big bucks business.

"I believe the assumption is that its in the context of the developing world

What do you think, when you think microfinance? Would love to know your honest answer.

Also, there's just a little over 2 days left to enter the Beyond creative challenge. A short post or photo could win you a wonderful prize - and at this stage the odds are good!!

Monday, December 8, 2008

World Poverty for Dummies

I have two copies of World Poverty for Dummies to give away as part of the Creative Challenge. Back in September when I signed up as a volunteer Ambassador with Women's Opportunity (Opportunity International Australia) this book was endorsed on the recommended reading list.

World Poverty for Dummies includes an overview of world poverty, a history of poverty, covers topics such as women, bribery, the slave trade, human trafficking, impacts of climate chaos, economics and the levers of change, with ideas on how you can personally take action. The book contains a blend of statistics and personal stories by four authors who have worked almost exclusively in organisations dedicated to helping other people. Authors are Sarah Marland, Ashley Clements, Lindsay Rae (World Vision) and Adam Valvasori.
From Chapter 8 "Women: The World's Poor"
Women are the poorest of the poor, the oppressed among the oppressed."
"One of the most effective ways to end poverty is to work directly with women. Because women run the households in almost all societies, any improvements in their lives flow on directly to the lives of their families. Helping women helps entire communities"

How microfinance and trade banks help to bring"... a bunch of women in a particular community together , dispenses small loans to help those women set up a micro-businesses or grow their existing businesses. The loans may be as little as US$100 and are used to buy things like a sewing machine or livestock....."

"These microfinance programs have much lower rates of loan defaults than are experienced by large commercial banks. And they work. It's been proven that with a tiny injection of cash in the right place, whole communities can work their way out of poverty."
It's such an educational and interesting book, and you don't have to do much to be in the running to win a copy. Simply submit a blog post, comment, or picture for this Creative Challenge before 21st Dec 2008, or make a tax deductible donation (over $2) towards a microfinance project for a group of women in the Philippines (if you do both, your name gets entered twice!)

Friday, December 5, 2008


It's nearly three months into my Women's Opportunity Ambassadorship already. I have been learning about the way microfinance works, how trust banks work and how donations can be "recycled" once loans have been paid off.

I have discovered the incredible strength of these women in the Philippines, their ability to rise above their circumstances and desire to see a better life for themselves, their children, and their communities.

I consider it a real honour to be involved with this project, on behalf of these families in the Philippines. It's not easy either. I'm learning about fundraising, about using social media for fundraising and awareness and trying to find ways to get the word out.

I appreciate every bit of advice I get, from people like Gavin Heaton who gave me some timely social media marketing advice for the Slideshare project. I am amazed how, in the last three months, people from Scotland, USA, Australia, Sydney, Spain and the UK have contributed to be a voice for these women through their participation in creative projects on this site and even financially. It amazes me even more, because it has happened so easily despite my circumstance of being a busy part time working mum with young children in Australia, far away from many of you.

And now there are only two weeks left for people to create a simple response to the Beyond creative challenge. It's a busy time of year, and perhaps the topic is a little complicated for this intense time of year. Still, I'm hopeful that a few more interesting stories, thoughts, photos and even tweets will appear in the next two weeks :)

Please give these women the gift of five minutes. Set aside some time in your day, grab a hot cuppa and think about what it means to think "beyond". I'm sure you'll come up with some great examples, once you put aside a few minutes. You can read more details to get you thinking in the original post. It's a small thing you can do, to help create hope for people who are desperate to work their way out of poverty.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Beyond a Creative Challenge

Following on from the success of the Women's Investment slide project, which raised over AU$500 towards a group microfinance project in the Philippines - it's time for a new creative challenge. I hope you are personally inspired along the way :) All you need to do is respond to this challenge (see basic rules below) and you have a chance of winning a gift set of personalized postcards, minicards and stickers courtesy of MOO and a copy of "World Poverty for Dummies" courtesy of Wiley Australia!
The theme for this creative fundraising challenge is about thinking "Beyond". It's about changing your world. It's about innovation, vision and hope. And it's about making a difference.
Beyond yourself...towards the world.
Beyond the immediate...towards the possibilities.

Beyond having an idea...towards sharing it.

Beyond observing...towards participating.

Beyond poverty...towards empowerment and opportunity.

Image courtesy of Opportunity International Australia

Some basic "rules":

1. Be creative. You could share a story, an opinion, your experience, a motif, a poem, a picture, a short video, a call to action, or…you decide! The idea is to share something that represents a way to think “beyond” and make a difference in the world

2. Place a link on your response to this original post. You could also mention that this is all about raising awareness and funds for a microfinance project in the Philippines.

3. Verify your entry by commenting on this original post. with a link to your response

Examples of what you could write/create:
  • a blog post about dreaming big
  • an example of how someone made a difference by using their imagination
  • an illustration about opportunity
  • a photo illustrating why we need to think "beyond"
  • a video montage of words and images
Get the picture? :)

You have until Sunday December 21st 2008(midnight AEST) to contribute. The winner (as selected by a random draw of all entries) will receive a prize. The prize includes a personalized pack from MOO including 20 x POSTCARDS, 100 MINICARDS and 90 STICKERS valued at around $50

In addition, any DONATIONS received before 21 December will also be in a random draw for a copy of World Poverty for Dummies.

Winners will first be contacted about their prize and announced later in a follow-up post. I hope you will join in and share your thoughts about thinking "beyond" :) I will be featuring all responses on this tumblelog.

Ultimately this is all about raising AU$10,000 for a group microfinance project in the Philippines through the work of Women's Opportunity/Opportunity International Australia. Donations over $2 are tax deductible. Beyond helping just one person, this project will help at least 15 women work their way out of poverty, learn new skills and impact their communities.

Monday, November 24, 2008

About Trust Banks

A friend was asking how trust banks work, and what the AU$10,000 is for, so I'm sharing some information from Opportunity International Australia. What impresses me about the trust bank program is the structured coordination and training that complements the business loans to a group of 15 - 30 women, to enable "the transformation of the whole person, and includes training in business and management skills, social/community issues (eg health, sanitation and community participation), and personal development (eg motivation, selfesteem and leadership)"
A former manager of mine went to India last year and saw the projects that Opportunity International undertakes, and she continues to promote their great work today.

Trust Bank clients. Image Courtesy of Opportunity International

The six step Trust Bank process (also available with more detail in PDF format)

Step 1: Opportunity International’s Implementing Partner undertakes a feasibility study in a community to see if it has the potential for a Trust Bank program. Half the residents must be living below the national poverty line (typically US$1-2 a day). There should bean existing informal market and access to a local bank, communication facilities and transport.
Step 2: The loan officer consults with local leaders and sources potential clients, inviting them to an informal information meeting. During the meeting the loan officer outlines the Trust Bank program and answers any questions. Interested clients register to form a group.
Step 3: Each registered client is carefully screened for their suitability to the program. The loan officer visits their place of business and explains the conditions of Trust Bank membership.
Step 4: The clients are asked to attend orientation training over a number of sessions to receive details on the microfinance program, create internal procedures, identify leaders and develop group solidarity. With the assistance of the loan officer, each member develops a loan application and devises a basic business plan and loan use strategy.
Step 5: Leaders of the Trust Bank make a recommendation to the group members concerning the make-up of the group.The Trust Bank is officially formed when the group members endorse the recommendation. Members must know and trust one another because they must agree to co-guarantee each other’s loan repayments. They do not want to accept someone into the group who is dishonest or unreliable because this would adversely affect the whole group.
Step 6: Loan applications are assessed and approved by the Trust Bank program manager. The loan officer records and monitors loan repayments at weekly Trust Bank meetings.

Opportunity International worldwide*:
• Makes 85% of loans to women
• Achieves a loan repayment rate of 98%
• Works in 27 developing countries worldwide
• As of December 2006, supported over 960,829 active clients
• Provides effective HIV/AIDS education in several African
• Is creating and sustaining almost two million jobs
• Is providing long-term solutions to tsunami-ravaged parts of
India and Indonesia
*Data current as at December 2006

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

An example from the Philippines

The money raised from this project will go towards the businesses of 15 to 30 individuals, mostly women in the Philippines. They receive loans which, once paid back, are recycled back into loans for future microfinance projects with Women's Opportunity (Opportunity International Australia.)
Calma is one such woman from the Philippines who received a loan through Women's Opportunity - Here is her story courtesy of Women's Opportunity.

"A passion for mushrooms may not be exactly common, but for Calma Arcala, this little vegetable is anything but humble. Years ago, Calma worked long hours as a laboratory assistant in the Philippines, often doing unpaid overtime day after day. As she worked into the night, Calma, who grew up in a family of farmers, would dream about returning to the land and planting her own crops to market in her community. With a degree in horticulture, she knew she had the ability to start a successful business – what she lacked was the money to begin.

The turning point for Calma came in the form a small loan from TSPI, one of Opportunity International Australia’s microfinance partners in the Philippines. With the loan, Calma was able to plant her own mushroom farm and begin the dream she had waited so long for. As she worked, the farm flourished, and Calma had to employ an extra worker to keep up with the harvest. Today, Calma’s farm employs five people from her community, and is looking to employ two more. More passionate about mushrooms than ever, Calma hopes that one day the five-star restaurants of the world will use her produce in their dishes."

Read more about Women's Opportunity

Women's Opportunity just published an article on the Opportunity International Australia website about the Women's Investment project , my involvement with Women's Opportunity and the slides :)

There have also been three contributions since my last post, which means I have reached 5% of my goal! Fantastic. Please keep your (tax deductible) donations coming in. Thank you!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Getting to ten thousand

I haven't done much fundraising before. So, when I agreed to raise AU$10,000 for a Trust Bank in the Philippines, I faced the challenge of finding ways to raise so much money by the end of June next year. I still do!

Image originally uploaded by ModifiedEnzyme
Well so far a few contributions have amounted to US$200, which is around $300 Australian dollars. So I figure, all I need is um, around 600 people to donate US$10 (or 300 of you to donate US$20) and a whole community in the Philippines will be impacted!

The Group Slideshare project was a nice start to generate some awareness and raise a little bit of money. I'll be putting on my thinking cap - maybe auctioning a twenty year old edition of Warhol's Interview magazine on eBay. A blogging challenge. A reward. Stay tuned for the next creative fundraising challenge and more stories about women from previous projects in the Philippines.

A successful Trust Bank, the Dadda Group in the Philippines.
Image courtesy of Opportunity International

Oh - and please remember to donate (via Paypal or creditcard) or share this project with others. Donations of $2 or more are tax deductible (I will be arranging receipts quarterly)

Thank you!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

inspiring slides for A Woman's Investment

Last month 26 women from around the world took a moment to write an inspiring sentence. Each woman has shared something unique - please take the time to read the message on each slide.
Here they are!

A Woman's Investment
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: women charity)

THANK YOU to these amazing women for their contributions!
Alison Spencer, IBM Australia
Amy Palko, Less Ordinary, Scotland
Anita Pahor, Women’s Opportunity Director, Australia
Beth Kanter Social Media for NonProfits
Bonnie McEwan Owner, Make Waves: Impact Marketing for Nonprofits USA
Cindy Lenferna de la Motte, Director at Fashion Collaborative, Australia
Danielle Johnston, Business Director, Committee for Melbourne, Australia
Debbe Kennedy, Founder, President, and CEO Global Dialogue Center and Leadership Solutions Companies, USA
Janette Toral
, Australia/Philippines
Joanna Young, Confident Writing, writing coach, Scotland
Kieran Cannistra, Innovation Editor IBM, USA
Linda Griffin Founder ClearWind LLC, USA
Lindy McKeown, eLearning Consultant, Australia
Lynne Wenig, Scope President (2005 – 2007) Australia
Marigo Raftopoloulos
Michelle Zamora
, AP SOA Marketing Leader, IBM, Australia
Nina Simosko, Global Chief Operating Officer, SAP Education USA
Penni Russon, Author, Australia
Phaedra Boinidiris, CEO, WomenGamers.Com USA
Renee Wolforth, Attorney, Washington, USA
Dr Robyn McMaster Sr VP MITA International Brain Based Cente
Sacha Chua, Canada/Philippines
Shai Coggins
,Co-Founder & Community Strategist,
Silvia Guccione, Director, Pomodoro Italian Cooking School, Australia
Suzanne Male, Publisher, Smink Works Books, Australia
Sacha Chua, Philippines and Canada

If these slides impact you, please consider making a donation to invest in a group of women in the Philippines.

And share these inspiring slides on your blog or Facebook etc… thank you!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Inspiring words. Inspiring action.

You might wonder why I chose the theme "a woman's investment".
Why not "a woman's dream" or "a woman's inspiration"?

I think amazing things can happen when a woman breathes life into her dreams and invests of herself to turn those dreams into an inspiring reality. She invests from the moment she gives these seeds of innovation some thought and vision. Then as she rises up with confidence to take action, she invests in other ways - her steps, her voice, her effort, her finances and her time.

Investment requires action. Sometimes it involves sacrifice, strength and courage. Small investments and large all have impact. Some women risk their lives to defend and provide for their children. The small community of poor women in the Philippines will invest in their livelihoods, their families and their community. So far over 20 women have invested some time to come up with an inspiring sentence on the theme of a Woman's Investment. I'd love for you to share your own quote. You can speak from your own experience, your journey or your insight.

Joanna Young over at Confident Writing shared these wonderful words and her own photo

Deep roots, bright leaves, the strength to weather storms:
when a woman invests I know that growth will follow.

You have until the 31st of October (your time zone) to contribute...please let me know if you are interested.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Why Women's Opportunity?

You might be curious to know why I decided to raise $10,000 for a trust bank in the Philippines through Women's Opportunity (Opportunity International Australia)
First, a few facts* about Opportunity International
  • 86% of their loans are made to women
  • achieves a loan repayment of 97%
  • works in 28 developing countries worldwide
  • supports over one million active clients
The money I am raising - with your support - will enable 15 to 30 entrepreneurial poor (mainly women) to form a Trust Bank. They co-guarantee each other's loans to start small businesses and support their families, working together so that all may succeed in their individual businesses. The Trust Bank is established in a community where over half the residents are living below the national poverty line (typically $1-2 a day.)

In addition to the loan the funding provides enterprise development services, including training in business and management skills, social and community issues such as health, sanitation and community participation - and personal development. The members meet each week to make their repayments, discuss issues relevant to their businesses and personal lives, and receive business training and mentoring.

Don't you think it would be wonderful if we could pool together to help a group of poor women in the Philippines to form a small community, build business, be transformed as individuals and even impact whole communities? I'm really glad to be a part of this, I hope you can join me in making a difference.

(*March 2008)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Some wonderful contributors

There have been some beautifully written contributions to the Women's Investment project so far. Thanks to these early contributors (in no particular order) :
Anita Pahor, Women’s Opportunity Director, Australia
Kieran Cannistra, Innovation Editor IBM, USA
Cindy Lenferna de la Motte, Director at Fashion Collaborative, Australia
Amy Palko, Less Ordinary, Scotland
Suzanne Male, Publisher, Smink Works Books, Australia
Silvia Guccione, Director, Pomodoro Italian Cooking School, Australia
Michelle Zamora, AP SOA Marketing Leader, IBM, Australia
Nina Simosko, Global Chief Operating Officer, SAP Education USA
Lindy McKeown, eLearning Consultant, Australia
Renee Wolforth, Attorney, Washington, USA
Bonnie McEwan Owner, Make Waves: Impact Marketing for Nonprofits USA
Debbe Kennedy, Founder, President, and CEO Global Dialogue Center and Leadership Solutions Companies, USA
Phaedra Boinidiris, CEO, WomenGamers.Com USA
Joanna Young, Confident Writing, writing coach, Scotland
Janette Toral, Australia/Philippines
Linda Griffin Founder ClearWind LLC, USA
Sacha Chua, Philippines and Canada

Some women have even made a donation in addition to their inspiring words - thank you so much! I'm looking forward to creating the slides in a few weeks - I'm sure you will be inspired and moved too!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Seeking your inspiring words!

I'm really amazed at the responses I have received to date for the Women's Investment slideshare project. So far twenty women - from CEOs to photographers, directors and small business owners - have shared a sentence for the slides.

“When a woman invests in the lives of others she propels herself forward into more of her own destiny…the unlikely dividend of living a life for others is discovering the purpose of your own”
Anita Pahor, Women’s Opportunity Director, Australia.

You still have until the end of the month to share your sentence. If you are a woman with entrepreneurial spirit and you would like to contribute to this special project:

1. Write a sentence on the theme of “A woman’s Investment” on LinkedIn by the end of October. Alternatively you can email me privately at jasmin at wonderwebby dot com with your response or intent to respond. Or just leave a comment here!

2. Please include your name, title/company (optional) and Country.
If you have a blog or company website you can list that too, as I will compile an additional list of all contributors and links on my blog.

And please spread the word for people to join in or donate! Thank you!

To donate:

A Woman's Investment. A special project.

What's this all about?

Recently I joined Women’s Opportunity as a formal Ambassador. Over the next year, amongst other things I aim to raise $10,000 for the non profit Opportunity International Australia towards microfinance and enterprise development solutions in the Philippines, to help women work their way out of poverty.

The money raised will create a Trust Bank in the Philippines for a group of 15 to 30 women. They will be supported over a two year cycle by a Loan Officer, training (eg customer service) to develop their own small businesses using microfinance. I will share an update with contributors every 6 months so you can see a photo of the women and get an update of how your generous donation has assisted them.

I’m looking forward to a creative year, full of innovative and fun ways to make this happen! Like this special project “A Woman’s Investment” (please join in!)

And of course, you can help me on this journey by making a contribution - even $10 will help me towards my goal. Please contact me jasmin {at} wonderwebby {dot} com if you require a receipt for tax purposes. You can donate here (using Paypal or Visa)

Thanks! And please feel free to share any ideas, experiences or feedback.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A Woman's Investment

A Womans Investment - invitation to contribute
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: wonderwebby quotes)

More information