Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A happy story about 12 women, their children and your kindness

Thanks to those of you who donated and publicised fundraising for this microfinance project, AU$7,000 (edit: $8600 total thanks to further $1600 community donation from my employer IBM) was raised to help Filipino women out of poverty through a 2 year program. And here are the recipients of your kindness.

The following is an excerpt from the Initial Report provided by Opportunity International Australia.

Furao Trust Group - Philippines

The Furao Trust Group is composed of 12 female members who initially heard about the program from another villager. A loan officer conducted an orientation seminar for the residents of Furao and explained the details of the program including the different services offered. The 12 women then passed the evaluation process, based on their determination and capability to run a small business. As a result, Furao Trust Group was formed.

Members meet with a loan officer every Thursday. During this time they make their loan repayments and receive business training and mentoring. They also discuss issues relevant to both their business and personal lives,and find support and encouragement. The loan officer facilitates discussions and helps the members solve problems.Members say they enjoy these meetings as they are able to spend time creating strong friendships.

This report provides information on the Trust Group which was established in the last three months, and outlines the types of businesses that have been funded as a result of your giving towards the Trust Group program.

Furao Trust Group

Furao village is located in the province of Isabela on the island of Luzon. Agriculture, particularly rice and corn, are the biggest industries in Isabela, which was named after Queen Isabela II of Spain. Villagers in Furao come from a mixture of three main ethnic groups: Ilocano, Ibang and Tagalog. All three languages are commonly spoken. Furao is a small village on the outskirts of the nearest town, however the closest market from the village is still 7km away. Furao Trust Group members have to travel 10km to buy stock for their businesses at the large public market in Roxas.

Furao Trust Group members are engaged in various small businesses including tricycle driving, piggeries, vegetable gardening and barbeque vending. With the loans received, members can invest in larger quantities of their product or can expand their range of stock.

Prior to receiving financial assistance, most members earned approximately Php.100 -150(A$2.55-3.85) a day. This income has increased to Php. 200-250 (A$5.10-6.40) as a result of the additional capital and business training. Furao Trust Group members are working hard to provide their children with opportunities they never had.

Furao Trust Group members (Name, M/F, Age, Business)
Conception Agudon, Female, 50, Tricycle operator
Lenie Calubaquid, Female, 55, Sari-sari store
Adelaida Mina, Female, 55, Tricycle operator
Delia Agudon, Female, 47 ,Piggery
Norma Diampoc, Female, 44, Sari-sari store
Charlita Caranzo, Female, 46, Vegetable vending
Linda Quibilan, Female, 58, Vegetable vending
Caranzo Arlene, Female, 34, Direct selling
Lucia Florendo, Female, 45, Vegetable gardening
Marcelina Pedro, Female, 55, Piggery
Aida Salvador, Female, 37, Piggery
Charliza Lumilan, Female, 35, Barbeque vending

Life in Furao

Household size
This group has an average household size of four people. In the Philippines, parents typically have two or three children, and are often responsible for supporting aged parents or an adopted niece or nephew.


Furao has its own health centre where villagers can receive free consultations and medicine.


42% of Trust Group members attended university, while 58% attended high school. Several members were unable to complete their university diplomas due to financial constraints. All of the members of Furao Trust Group hope to support their children until they complete senior high school and many hope to send their children to university. Each member saves a portion of their business profit each week with the intention of using this money for their children’s future.


Most houses in Furao are semi-concrete with roofs of galvanised iron, walls of lawanit (wood) and concrete floors. Most of the houses only have two rooms, so large families often sleep in their living room. Toilets are usually open pits located outside the house. Water is accessed from a communal well. Households in Furao have access to electricity.

Client Profile

Norma Diampoc runs her own sari-sari store business. She is married to Augustus, a farmer. Together they have three children: Cristine, 24 years old, Alma, 22, and Elgie, 18.

Out of the hardships she endured as a child, Norma has become a strong business woman. Being part of a family who did not have enough resources to provide for their needs, she was forced to leave high school early.Norma usually opens her store at 8am and closes it at 9pm. She chose to open a sari-sari store because she is able to earn a living and still fulfill her responsibilities as a wife and mother.

“I am able to buy more commodities for my store like detergent soap and canned goods." She recalls that before the assistance of ASKI she was having trouble budgeting her income. With the help of the Trust Group’s loan officer, financial planning for her family has become easier.

Philippines – At a Glance

The Philippines is a nation of 7,107 islands, known for its fun-loving people and American-influenced culture. The Philippines became the first and only colony of the United States in 1898, and is now the third largest English speaking country in the world.

Due to a long history of colonial rule and ongoing associations with merchants and traders, today the Philippines is a vibrant mix of cultures, with Malaysian, Chinese, American, Spanish and Arab origins. Tribal communities are scattered across the archipelago. There are more than 111 dialects spoken throughout the Philippines.

Economic and political uncertainty
The Philippines has a long history of political instability, corruption and violent demonstrations. Gloria Arroyo has been president of the Philippines since 2001. In the 2004 presidential election, 112 people were reported to have been killed in election related violence. There were widespread reports of vote-buying, intimidation and voter registration problems. In early 2007, the Philippines again held national elections and President Arroyo was reinstated. Despite fears of recurrent violence, the elections went smoothly. President Arroyo stated after the election that poverty alleviation would be a major focus of her government.

Multilateral lenders—such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund—are insisting that Arroyo’s government halt the endless cycle of budget deficits by stamping out corruption in the tax system. The new administration needs to vigorously tackle corruption and obtain due process in the legal system, as well as improve efficiency and competition. Delays in implementing such structural reforms have made economic growth slow in comparison to other countries in the region.

Poverty is a reality
Poverty in the Philippines has been a predominantly rural phenomenon, with the gap between urban and rural poverty increasing in recent years. In rural areas, many people depend on subsistence farming and fishing to support their families. Some work as tenant farmers of paid agricultural workers, and there are few social services to support them. Indigenous people are also more likely to be poor, illiterate and unemployed than their non-indigenous counterparts.
Groups who are especially vulnerable include indigenous peoples, small-scale farmers who cultivate land received through agrarian reform, landless workers, fishermen, people in rural areas and women.

Fishermen play a crucial part in the national economy of this nation of many islands
Area: 298,170 sq km
Population: 96,061,680
Capital city: Manila
Ethnic groups: Tagalog 28.1%, Cebuano 13.1%
Religions: Roman Catholic 81%, Muslim 5%
Language: More than 170 languages are spoken within the Philippines. The official languages are Filipino (basedon Tagalog) and English.
Source: CIA World Factbook (Nov 2008)

Poverty and health

A recent survey reported that hunger is a fact of life for 40% of Filipinos. Of the five leading causes of death, fourare preventable communicable diseases—diarrhoea, bronchitis, pneumonia and influenza. The prevalence of communicable disease places a huge toll on communities and on the health and economy of the nation as a whole.

The population growth rate is also presenting serious challenges to the delivery of health services. There are only 1.2 medical physicians per 1,000 people and 18% of the population is undernourished. In rural areas, people’s health is worsened by the difficulty of accessing medical treatment, along with locally endemic diseases like malaria. The growing population is also putting pressure on the environment, a concern which will only exacerbate the problems of poverty and disease in the future.

How Opportunity Australia is helping
Opportunity Australia is meeting the challenges in the Philippines by working with three implementing partners, ASKI, TSKI and TSPI (Alalay Sa Kanularan, Inc., Taytay Sa Kauswagan, Inc. and Tulay Sa Pag-unlad, Inc.) Our Philippines partners are currently providing loans, savings and insurance to over 390,000 clients.

Opportunity Australia is undertaking a Philippines Renewal Program—helping our Philippine partners move from product-driven to client-responsive services. This transformation will increase service quality to existing borrowers and allow for the expansion of services into other needy client markets. The renewal will also equip our partners toremain at the cutting edge of a rapidly evolving microfinance market, enabling them to deliver innovative financial solutions to address the needs of poor people.

The 2008-2010 Renewal Program achieves twin goals: improving the sustainability of microfinance and other antipoverty services to the poor; and broadening their social impact among some of the poorest families and communities in the Philippines. Together, we can make a difference to the lives of thousands of poor people across the Philippines.

Under-five mortality rate: 33 per 1,000
Average life expectancy: 71 years
Literacy: 92.6%
Population with access to safe drinking water: 85%
Source: United Nations Human Development Report

Opportunity International Overview
Opportunity International is a global leader and pioneer with over 35 years’ experience in providing microfinance and enterprise development to the working poor in developing countries.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Remembering an Opportunity for Women in Poverty

Today, thanks to a number of generous people around the world I was able to pass on a total donation of AUD$7,077 towards an Opportunity International Australia Trust Group for women in poverty!

Since September last year, you tweeted. You blogged. You very kindly donated. And together we raised *nearly* enough to fund a 2 year microfinance program. Opportunity Australia were really excited about your donations and support, and will find a 'match' from a $3000 public donation to create this $10,000 microfinance Trust Group in the Philippines. Stay tuned for more details about the business that will be created in a few months time!

It's not over yet!
Someone just donated another $50 and I know a couple of people had difficulties making payments in the last 24 hours. So, I'm leaving a newly created Chipin open for the rest of the year so you can continue to give. In fact, I'd love to see if we can still raise the rest of the money quickly.

So how did we raise the money?
The donations came in so many ways. As you will read on Twitip, some things happened that were totally unexpected. For instance "an overseas businesswoman was visiting Melbourne and met me for dinner. She donated $500 towards my fundraiser and wanted to discuss the possibility of funding an entire Trust Group (she probably will, along with a friend)
She was the friend of a Twitter friend, although she doesn’t use Twitter herself."(read more)

Your support was really, really incredible

We tried a number of social media events together, from Chipins to Facebook.

including an ebook

or two

you contributed photos towards a mini-exhibition in a Melbourne bar

and a number of you put the call out on Twitter and your blogs, including:
Laurel Papworth http://laurelpapworth.com
Gavin Heaton http://www.servantofchaos.com
Des Walsh http://deswalsh.com/
Debra Askanase Community Organizer 2.0
Amy Jussel from Shaping Youth
Lee Hopkins http://leehopkins.net
Penni Russon http://eglantinescake.blogspot.com
Andy Piper who also gave a shout out on the Dogear Nation podcast
Women in the Lead
The Greater IBM Connection blog
Guest post on Twitip

We didn't reach the $10,000 goal (yet!) but we did raise $7,077 which has gone towards helping a number of Filipino women out of poverty through business loans and training. I'm not sure why we didn't raise the full amount. Perhaps because not everyone has heard of Opportunity Australia, or Chipin was fiddly (more on that later!) Maybe microfinance is not easily understood, maybe times are just tough or perhaps I still have much to learn. Still, I am very grateful for your donations and extremely happy that we were able to raise so much.

Just look at how many of you helped in one way or another (not including all the donations and retweets!) Amy Jussel, Amy Sample Ward,Anita Pahor,Annie Le Cavalier,Daphne Nederhorst, Debra Arkanase, Eileen Clegg, Lucky Chhetri, Jyl Johnson Pattee, Karen Muanu, Marigo Raftopolous, Nancy White, Phaedra Boinidiris, Sandy Skees, Stacey Monk, NextNow, Eileen Clegg, Shahin Shafaei, Marigo Raftopolous, Luke Grange, Debbe Kennedy Sally K. Green, Melissa Sader, Sagart, Karen Tipping, Amy Jussel, Bad Koala ,Bernie Michalik, August Boehm, David Armano, ePredator, Bettina Cutler, Jared Woods, Vasundharb, Janelle Amet, David Masters, Siddharth, Sean Lew, David Talamelli, Penni Russon, Gypsychk, Andy Piper, Aaron Julius Kim, Ric Hayman, Amy Palko Michelle Zamora, Alison Spencer, Anita Pahor, Beth Kanter Bonnie McEwan Cindy Lenferna de la Motte, Chris Brogan, James Governer, Danielle Johnston, Global Dialogue Center ,Janette Toral, Confident Writing, Kieran Cannistra, Linda Griffin Lindy McKeown, Lynne Wenig,
Nina Simosko, Phaedra Boinidiris, Renee Wolforth, Dr Robyn McMaster, Shai Coggins,Silvia Guccione,Suzanne Male, Smink Works Books, Sacha Chua, Gus Poskus, Matt Moore, Iggy Pintado and I'm sure, many others.


And remember it's not too late to donate or start something yourself. I'd love to hear your feedback about your involvement. I hope you enjoyed being part of it as much as I did!

Final few hours

If you would like to make any final donations please use this Chipin. Unfortunately my original Chipin expired a few hours before I hoped and I couldn't go in and edit any settings. So I started this new one to raise any final funds today. It will remain open until the end of the year also.

Thank you once again for your support as you have helped to raise AU$7,000 towards a $10,000 Trust Group! Will you help me raise any final funds in the next few hours?

Monday, June 29, 2009

Final Call for Women's Opportunity Microcredit Donations

In around 12 hours on June 30th I will be passing on your generous donations to Opportunity International Australia.

Last week I rang them and told them that around $5,000 was raised.

Today I sent them a note and told them it was now $7,000.

WOW - thank you!

Over the next 12 hours, will you help me to make it closer to AU$10,000 so that this Trust Group program in the Philippines can begin straight away? Each one of your donations counts. After all that's how we reached AU$7,000 :)

Your donations will help up to 30 Filipinos (mostly women) to get out of poverty through a 2 year program helping them to set up businesses. Women like Calma Arcala, an Opportunity International client who now sells mushrooms to bring a secure income in for her family. In fact since starting the program with Opportunity Australia she now owns a mushroom farm and employs 5 other people from her village!

Please make your donation prior to midday AEST.

Friday, June 26, 2009

How Microcredit creates opportunity for women in poverty and how you can help today

You might have seen me tweet asking for donations for women living in poverty in the Philippines (4 days to go!) Here's a little explanation to help you understand what microcredit is and why I am raising funds for nonprofit Opportunity International Australia.

Opportunity Australia has been operating for 35 years, helping people living beneath the poverty line (less than US$1 a day) to establish successful small businesses through 'microcredit' which is a 'microfinance' service.

Opportunity Australia currently have around 1.4 Million active microcredit clients. That means they are helping 1.4 million people in India, the Philippines and Indonesia to learn business skills, generate an income, employ more people and provide a better future for their children.

Microcredit basically means that people, who are otherwise unable to secure finance to start a business, are able to get collateral free- loans so that they can buy a sewing machine, or buy a fruit cart, or whatever is needed to help them secure an income. As each business grows, loans are paid back and lent out again. 97% of Opportunity Australia's loans are repaid.

Most loans (around 90%) are made through a group lending method called Trust Groups, where 15-30 clients (mostly women) come together to co-guarantee each others loans. Each Trust Group chooses its own members who are drawn from the local community. They meet each week to repay their loans, share experiences and learn new skills. I LOVE this part of the trust group method - because it ENABLES women to succeed through a well designed 2 year development program. Here's a little video that explains some more:

So this is where I need your help to raise AU$10,000 to create a Trust Group in the Philippines. Over $5,700 has been donated from people around the world. I'm constantly amazed at the variety of donations and grateful for each one. Last week someone in America donated $100, someone in Calcutta donated $3, and someone in Germany donated online while he was on the train! A whole lot of you have been tweeting and blogging to show your support also. Thank you!

What about you? Will you chip in a few dollars to create an opportunity for someone in poverty? (Note the Chipin is displayed in US dollars)
All funds raised will go to Opportunity Australia midday June 30th AEST.

Donations made by Australian residents are also tax deductible and if you prefer to donate in Australian dollars, you can deposit directly via paypal. Thank you for your kindness and support. Every donation counts!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Tweet to make a difference this week!

**Update - only 185 x $20 donations (AU$25) needed this week to create a two year group microfinance program for up to 30 women!**

With only a week left to raise $5,000 (US$4,000) for an Opportunity International program for Filipino women in poverty I have a teeny tiny, and I hope "tweetworthy" request.

Will you help to make a difference with a single tweet? I really need your help to promote this Wonderwebby Chipin (#WWCI) on Twitter tomorrow for #MicroloanMonday and Tuesday #CharityTuesday

All I'm asking is for your tweets to raise awareness and funds for this Opportunity International fundraiser.

You could tweet: "please donate to this project against poverty http://wonderwebby.chipin.com #WWCI #microloanmonday"
or... "help women in poverty - fundraiser ends in 1 week http://wonderwebby.chipin.com #WWCI #charitytuesday " or simply write in your own words - whatever you think is most compelling.

Over the last several months I have been asking for donations for a 2 year microfinance (also known as microcredit or microloan) program - most people have been donating $20 at a time - and the fundraiser ends in a week on June 30th!!

If just 250 190 people donate $20 each this week then a community of up to 30 Filipino women currently living in poverty will immediately commence a two year journey, creating small businesses and meeting weekly to support one another and learn new skills - imagine that!!

Just in case you want to read more or write a blog post, I've put together a list of resources to help you out!
Thank you so much for helping out with this important cause! Your generosity makes all the difference.
Australian donations are tax deductible.

A story about a fundraiser

Fuze Tell A Story Contest
if you enjoyed these slides please add your vote before June 22nd, 11.59 PM PST.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

14 days and counting down - and a love story

First of all - thank you to everyone who has donated so far. People around the world have given a total of $5,000! Money raised goes to women living in poverty through Opportunity International Australia.

Debra Arkanase was kind enough to interview me about my online fundraising efforts, and the Global Dialogue Center also wrote a blog post featuring the Worldshapers eBook. David Bressler wrote a review of the eBook and Amy Jussel's Shaping Youth featured a story about women changing the world (passionistas!).

And now there are less than 14 days left to raise the remaining AUD$5,000 (that's around US$4,000) . I'm continuing to people to donate the price of a cup of coffee (or 2) using Chipin or PayPal (for Australian donations.)

Otherwise I'm asking friends to simply vote for these slides entered in a competition on SlideShare. I hope you're inspired by them! If I win I'll be donating the prize money to Opportunity International. Thanks for being part of this journey with me :)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Change lives by buying a cup of coffee

I've been thinking - what do you do when you only have 20 days left to raise US$4,000?

You see, this month I’m wrapping up my fundraising activities for Opportunity International - raising money for a two year 'Trust Group' microfinance program, which provides small business loans and training for Filipino women currently living in poverty.

An Opportunity International client, who has started a small business thanks to a Trust Group program

So I thought I would ask 1000 people to donate USD$4 - the price of a drink – to raise the total funds for this project. A large coffee costs $4 at some places these days – I would be really grateful if you could shout me one :)

Many thanks to people who have chipped in so far already raising 50% of funds for this AUD$10,000 (approx US$8k) program including:

@sachac @socialtopher @sminkworks @badkoala @kt29 @gypsychk @joannayoung @digitalfilipino @joannestanton @gusposkus @juliancole @ethmanmcc @mspecht @bettinac @janelle_amet @onlinedialogues @blm849 @iggypintado @andypiper @nancywhite @verbaw @marigo @elsua @aqualung @SonjaBarfoed @innotecture @kdelarue and @deswalsh

You can read more and donate at http://wonderwebby.chipin.com

Update – thanks for your donations so far including a couple of rounds – together you have donated nearly $400 worth of coffees - only 17 days to go !

If you prefer to donate in Australian dollars, you can deposit directly via paypal. Thank you for your support.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Contribute to a Life Changing Microfinance Project in June

Over the last several months I have been inviting my online social network to be involved in creative projects to help raise funds and awareness for an Opportunity International Australia Trust Group project against poverty. This month of June is my last month to raise funds for a non profit project I really believe in.

I value the work Opportunity is doing because it helps people to get out of poverty using a long term, life changing solution. You may know what it feels like to start your own business and how you grow as you learn newfound confidence, skills and abilities. Microfinance is all about empowering the entrepreneurial poor currently living in poverty, by providing them business loans to start their own small businesses.

This $10,000 two year Trust Group program not only provides small business loans to a group of 15 - 30 Filipinos (mostly women) but also supports them with a Loan Officer who meets with them weekly to provide business training, build relationships and enable their community to break the poverty cycle and improve living conditions. As a result they can provide basic needs for their families, develop stronger communities and improve vital education and resources such as better sanitation in their villages. This is a life changing program!

Since September '08 over thirty generous individuals and companies around the world have made donations varying from $1 to $1000 on my fundraising Chipin site, which has so far raised $4,000 towards a AUD$10,000 (approx USD$7,500) two year program. Now that I only have a month left to raise funds, I am asking for your support to help me raise the remaining $6,000. All funds raised will go towards a Trust Group in the Philippines.

Will you be part of this global fundraising effort to help make a difference for a group of women in a small village, currently living on less than $2 a day? Together we can help to make a big change for those who need to find a way out of poverty.

Please donate by June 31st using paypal or credit card on my Chipin site, or email wonderwebby at gmail dot com if you would prefer to pay via direct deposit. Donations made by Australian residents or businesses are tax deductible.

I am really, really thankful and grateful for your support! On behalf of the families in the Philippines, thank you!

Friday, May 22, 2009

WorldShapers ebook for you

Here is my gift to you - an ebook featuring some amazing women. I feel so privileged that these women shared their stories with me , and I hope you are inspired by their words!

Monday, April 27, 2009

An eBook about some amazing WorldShapers

A little while ago I mentioned that I wanted to create a gift for YOU, to thank you for all your great help. Together we have raised AU$4,000 towards a $10k microfinance Trust Group for Filipino women currently living in poverty.

In about a month YOU will be treated to something to help you dream big - an inspirational eBook called WorldShapers, featuring some extraordinary women making an impact!

Image originally uploaded by Todd Huffman

What's WorldShapers all about? It's about women embracing the power of technology and social media to make a bigger difference and shape their world. I've encountered many such initiatives as part of this campaign for Opportunity International, and I look forward to sharing these stories of collaboration, of initiative, and of creativity. Their inspiring stories will focus on the value of community and will be released as a free eBook at the end of May. The delightful Joanna Young of Confident Writing is also helping to put this eBook together.

Some amazing women who have indicated their involvement with the WorldShapers eBook (you can @wonderwebby me if you also want to be included):

Eileen Clegg – Visual Journalist and Founder of Visual Insight @eileenclegg USA
Phaedra Boinidiris – CEO and Co-Founder of WomenGamers.com USA
Anita Pahor – Director of Partnerships at Emberin Australia
Amy Jussel – Founder/Executive Director of Shaping Youth USA
Marigo Raftopolous - Management Consultant, Serious Games evangelist @marigo Australia
Stacey Monk - CEO and Co-Founder of Epic Change @staceymonk USA
Lucky Chhetri - Co-founder EWN - Empowering Women of Nepal , Nepal
Daphne Nederhorst - Founder and Executive Director of SAWA
Amy Sample Ward Director of community and content at Netsquared and nonprofit consultant @amyrsward UK
Jyl Johnson Pattee Co-Founder of Mom It Forward @jyl_momIF USA
Annie Le Cavalier- Executive Director Vibewire Youth Inc. @vibewire Australia
Karen Muanu - Love Without Boundaries @KarenMaunu_LWB USA
Debra Askanase- Social Media for Non Profits @askdebra Jerusalem
Dr Angela A Thomas - Author Youth Online, Sydney University @anyaixchel Australia
Nancy White - Founder, Full Circle Associates @NancyWhite USA

I am also seeking companies who want to make a difference, to 'sponsor' this eBook. Melbourne based company Incentive House have already made the first generous donation of AU$600 towards this Trust Group (in addition to their previous donation for the blogging challenge.) It might be a big ask in the current economic climate, but I'm counting on the generous spirit and willingness of companies like Incentive House to help change lives. If just 10 more companies join in, we will reach the goal of providing a $10k Trust Group for a community in the Philippines. All tax deductible donations (applies in Australia only) go towards this project for Opportunity International and corporate donors will be mentioned in the eBook - email worldshapers at gmail.com or @wonderwebby by May 18th if you are interested.
**update - Seek Volunteer have also donated $500 - thank you! **

Here's some more background to the project:
Last year I stepped out on a journey to raise AU$10,000 for a Trust Group in the Philippines, as a volunteer Ambassador for Opportunity International Australia, by June 31st 2009 .

The funds will create microloans and a 2 year enterprise development program to empower between 15 to 30 (mostly women) entrepreneurial poor.
The Trust Group 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 also 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. Once the loans are repaid the donation will be recycled to another Trust Group.

So far around 40% of this has been raised through a series of social media efforts. All the money raised goes towards this Chipin for Opportunity International Australia at the end of June or as soon as the $10,000 has been raised. Anyone can donate.

I look forward to sharing WorldShapers with you towards the end of May, and once again, thank YOU for helping me make a difference for many mothers currently living in poverty. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Stay tuned!!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Interview with David Bassau

I just finished listening to this short and informative interview with David Bassau, the founder of Opportunity International. It's well worth the listen, as he explains how microfinance works, the impact on communities and the growth of Opportunity International (mp3)

Des Walsh also interviewed me last week. I might not sound as eloquent as David :) but I tried to explain Trust Banks and the success of the Tribute blog challenge (10 mins)


If you would like to help raise funds for one of these programs, which provides a series of loans to a group of 15 to 30 (mostly women) entrepreneurial poor in the Philippines, you can chip in to this fundraiser (ending June 31st)

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Bloggers' Tribute raises $1300 for women in poverty

What an incredible week. A few days ago Incentive House offered to donate $100 for every blog post written as a tribute to the entrepreneurial poor (up to $1000). It took less than 3 days for ten Australian bloggers to rise to the occasion. Incentive House then offered a further $300 for another 3 posts, which were practically written overnight. WOW. So thank you to these amazing Australians who wrote a blog post in order to generate a substantial donation towards this microfinance project.

In order of contribution, as they appeared in my inbox between Friday and Monday :)
  1. @badkoala Matthew Johnson It's all about Opportunity says we can influence opportunities for others "you need to have & recognise the opportunities that are present to you get closer to your goal"
  2. @servantofchaos Gavin Heaton A Tribute to a Woman's Investment shares how just about anyone "can begin to build a portfolio of investments in small businesses that have significant local impacts in communities far from where you live."
  3. @innotecture Matt Moore in his usual quirky style issues a bold challenge for people to invest in this Trust Bank program
  4. @deswalsh Des Walsh A Tribute to the Entrepreneurial, Currently Poor Women writes of his desire "to see others with an entrepreneurial spirit supported in achieving their dreams."
  5. @marigo Marigo Raftopolous Investing In Entrepreneurship wrote about the reward of assisting with a women's shelter in Zimbabwe "My small investment gave these women and their families the dignity, independence and confidence that poverty and abuse had robbed from them. Never underestimate the power we all have to make a difference to the life of others. "
  6. KerrieAnn Christian paid tribute by sharing the journey of entrepreneur Sally Bowen
  7. @cheekysoul Alena Russel wrote Teach a Girl to Fish "These women have dreams, just like we do. We have ways to help them achieve these dreams that are simpler than you think."
  8. @katherineliew Katherine Liew wrote a tribute to opportunity and entrepreneurs "In economic theory, it’s entrepreneurs that drive the innovation and economic growth. It’s time to invest in them."
  9. From @shaicoggins Shai Coggins wrote A Tribute to Entrepreneurial Poor Women in the Philippines to honour "my late maternal grandmother and my mother - who both were very instrumental in showing me that entrepreneurship and hard work can help you to live better lives. They are both examples of women in the Philippines who managed to escape poverty by going in to business and learning how to save and to invest accordingly.
  10. @iggypintado Iggy Pintado Making a Difference to Poverty in the Philippines shared "a first hand view of the need to find ways to aid and support people in a third world country."
  11. @graemebowman Graeme Bowman wrote his first ever blog post Poor in Pocket, Rich in Spirit"With microfinance, training and programs, these poor but passionate people can seize opportunities and break the poverty cycle."
  12. @Socioteque Socioteque in Feeling Guilty? I know I am! makes a great suggestion to "make a pact with yourself to support a few personal causes this year. "
  13. From @miscmum Karen How blogging philanthropy is powerful and activism works shared her "interest in developing the skills to harness the potential - I feel - the Internet has to do real and important work for social causes
  14. @polkadotbride Ms Polka Dot A charitable tribute "Entrepreneurs have a certain spirit- I have been so lucky to meet so many and to be one myself with Polka Dot Bride. There’s a tenacity, a drive, an imagination and a certain sparkle that comes along with it."
A huge thanks to each blogger for participating, and to Incentive House (Reward Yourself card and getoutoftown.com.au ) for contributing to this fundraising initiative. I am flattered with their feedback and grateful for their support "Jasmin's enthusiasm and passion for supporting the entrepreneurial poor in the Philippines was the inspiration for Incentive House’s donation, and we are delighted by the selfless contribution of the many Aussies who supported this initiative, by either writing a blog post or spreading the word about this worthwhile cause. I hope we have inspired many more to make a further contribution.’

image uploaded by urbanshoregirl

If you missed out on writing a Tribute blog post you can still contribute by making a donation or purchasing greeting cards and art prints. Also I have two more initiatives in mind between now and the end of June, when my fundraising will end (at least for this Opportunity International Filipino microfinance project) so stay tuned! Don't worry, I won't be recruiting my online community into any more creative challenges because you have been so generous over the last few months participating in The Women's Investment Slides, the Beyond challenge, SOS09 and this recent Tribute project . I do promise that I have something very special planned - this time it will a gift from me to YOU :)

Update:Great news -futurist Morris Miselowski will be talking about this on local radio station 3AW tomorrow April 1st.

Monday, March 30, 2009

How Aussies raised $1000 in 3 days - and a chance to raise some more!

How exciting! Ten generous Australian bloggers united in a fundraising initiative, by writing Tribute blog posts for the entrepreneurial poor in the Philippines. In less than three days, they managed to raise $100 per post, a grand total of $1000 from Incentive House (Reward Yourself card.)

The folks at Incentive House were thrilled to see the response by bloggers and on Twitter to support this important cause for women living in poverty. They were so encouraged that they have extended their support for this fundraiser.

Joanne Stanton has kindly offered to donate another $300 from getoutoftown.com.au towards this community microfinance project in the Philippines - if only three more Australians join in this initiative and write a Tribute blog post by midnight 31st March ($100 per post).

I will create a wrap-up post with links to all of the final posts in early April. I am truly amazed at what can be achieved in a short time. Thanks for your generosity so far! Only three blog posts to go before we raise $1300 together!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Tribute: how your blog post can raise $1000 for people living in poverty

I have some great news to share with you! Over the next week Melbourne based business Incentive House will be contributing up to $1000 towards an Opportunity International microfinance fundraiser by donating $100 for every blog post you write for a special project.

First a quick background about how this happened. Last week, out of the blue, I received a tweet from Incentive House asking to discuss my fundraising project and how they could contribute.You see, many years ago the owner had visited the Philippines and witnessed people living in a rubbish tip. The devastating image of poverty never left him.

Images originally uploaded by Simon Oosterman

Within days I met the directors of Incentive House for the first time and shared an idea for a blogging challenge I already had in mind, then we came up with this project! They are really supportive of this fundraising initiative for a group of entrepreneurial poor in the Philippines - which also reflects their business about rewarding success and "giving inspiration to those with aspirations". So let me tell you about this exciting project.

TRIBUTE - a creative fundraising challenge for Australian bloggers.
Between now and the end of March, the generous folks at Incentive House will donate AU$100 for each "Tribute" blog post (up to a total of $1,000) So if ten people can write a post each, you will generate a total of $1,000 towards a group microfinance project in the Philippines!

Here's how to do it:
1. Create a TRIBUTE blog post between now and the end of March 2009.
The entrepreneurial poor in the Philippines are an incredible bunch of individuals who are rising up out of poverty and circumstances to develop their small businesses. The small banks and organisations like Opportunity International Australia who provide them with the loans, training and programs are equally doing a wonderful thing by creating opportunities to end the poverty cycle and impact whole communities. So this is your opportunity to create a Tribute to the entrepreneurial poor. For instance, you may choose write about the benefit of microfinance projects, the women who take the initiative to start their businesses to help feed and clothe their families, or you could share a personal experience about reducing poverty in the Philippines. You could even pay tribute by simply writing a poem or sharing a photo to honour these women.

2. Please leave a comment on this blog post to let me know you have written something for the Tribute project.

3. It would be great if you could mention that I am raising funds for an Opportunity International Filipino Trust Bank on http://wonderwebby.chipin.com so that others can consider making a donation to this important cause between now and the end of June.

I will write a follow up post early April linking to the contributors and letting you know that your contribution has resulted in a donation by Incentive House :)

Stuck for words? Here are some links:
I am so excited about this initiative and look forward to reading your Tributes to help raise $1000 via the generous folks at Incentive House. And of course even once we reach the target of ten Australian blog posts to raise $1,000 you can still join in with this project just to help spread the word about making a difference with the entrepreneurial poor!

About Incentive House and the Reward Yourself Card. Incentive House is creating opportunities for business to motivate their staff, through their latest innovative corporate reward product, the multi-store Reward Yourself Card. The Reward Card operates like a debit card, through invited 'aspirational' retailers eftpos terminals. See www.rewardyourself.com.au for further information.

Update on the Shout Out Social Project

Over the last month a number of people gave towards a project called #SOS09 (Shout Out Social) which had two purposes; to help raise funds for an Opportunity International project and to encourage people to be creative for a cause.

Around the world, individuals used their creativity to express something that mattered to them, including topics such as Healthcare, Hope and Green Spaces. They submitted their images to a Flickr Group, and the images were displayed as part of a digital wall show at Horse Bazaar over on March 14th

Eileen Clegg graciously created a mural to shout out for Creativity and explains her message on video

Shahin Shafaei reminded people of the importance of creativity and expression in our day to day lives, by sharing his experience of nearly two years in isolation at an Australian detention centre.

Over the course of this project around AU$280 was raised, and being part of this project and event was personally fulfilling. Eileen and Shahin spoke from the heart. A number of individuals around the world took a few minutes to use social media for positive change, and a small bunch of people braved the rain to come along to the SOS09 event. Even the decor of the venue represented the importance of people, history and culture in a technical and creative context.

That Saturday evening I left the event knowing that people around the planet had made a difference, however small, and that each of us had experienced something good through our individual contributions to this project against poverty.

If you would like to thank the people who contributed to this project AND make a difference to a group of women living in poverty right now, you can make a donation or purchase some quality greeting cards or wall art (all proceeds go towards this Opportunity International project in the Philippines. Thank you for your kind support.)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

About the Philippines and Opportunity International

I thought I'd take a moment to share some facts about the Philippines and poverty as provided by Opportunity International.
  • For over 30 years, the Opportunity International Network has been working with people living in poverty in the Philippines, where 40% of the population lives below the poverty line.
  • In the Philippines, the majority of Trust Banks (group microfinance projects) are located in urban and semiurban areas and to a lesser degree, rural areas.
  • Over 78% of the Filipino Trust Bank loans are made to women.
  • Poverty in the Philippines has been a predominantly rural phenomenon, with the gap between urban and rural poverty increasing in recent years. While the incidence of urban poverty remained the same over a period of three years, rural poverty increased and is approximately twice the level of urban poverty. The rural poor constitute approximately 44% of the population. Furthermore, most of the rural poor are engaged in agriculture, where poverty reduction has been painstakingly slow and poverty is most severe and widespread. In general, illiteracy, unemployment and the incidence of poverty are higher among indigenous peoples and people in the upland areas of the Philippines.
  • Overall, more than one out of three people in the Philippines live in poverty. The poorest of the poor are indigenous peoples, small-scale farmers who cultivate land received through agrarian reform, landless workers, fishers, people in upland areas, and women in all categories.
  • Many households in the Philippines rate themselves as poor and report that their families had experienced hunger, without having anything to eat, at least once in the last three months. Of the five leading causes of morbidity, four are communicable diseases (diarrhoea, bronchitis, pneumonias and influenza), and the fifth is hypertension. The prevalence of communicable diseases is still very high, while that of non-communicable
    diseases is increasing and will continue to do so. This extra burden of disease places a great toll on the health and economy of the people, and on the nation as a whole.
  • There are reportedly 1.2 medical physicians per 1,000 people and around 20% of the population is undernourished.
  • For more information about the Philippines:
    Local news: http://philippinesnews.net/
    Country profile: http://www.theworldnews.com.au/Worldguide/index.php3
    Country statistics: http://hdr.undp.org/statistics/data/

Thursday, March 19, 2009

How will I raise $10,000 for a microfinance project?

Filipino Trust Bank

In September I committed to raise AU$10,000 for an Opportunity International project against poverty for a group in the Philippines. And right now I only have a few months left and a little under $9,000 to raise. Eeeeek. So - in case you're wondering - what am I going to do?

1. I'm hoping to receive some funding through a special program at work for volunteers. This could provide around $1600 worth of funds to this project.

2. I will be making a significant donation myself. I believe in this program and the hope it offers these people - not just to create their own businesses - but to transform them and their communities with a long term solution. I'll be putting my money where my mouth is, so to speak!

3. Even if I only raise AU$5,000 I can still partner with another Opportunity Ambassador volunteer to achieve our goals. Opportunity International recognises that the current economic climate is making it more difficult for volunteers to raise funds, so although I initially committed to raising AU$10k I will be simply be raising as much as I can before June 30th 2009. If I raise less than $5000 the money will still go towards Opportunity International projects, however I'd still like to think that the $10,000 goal can be achieved by the end of June :)

So how can you help?

You can help me reach this goal, making a difference to a community of entrepreneurial poor, by donating to my Chipin fundraiser by credit card or paypal. People around the world have donated anything from $10 to $100 each. If you live in Australia your donation will be tax deductible. My request is genuine, as you can see on Opportunity International's official website.

Alternatively you can purchase quality greeting cards or wall prints with all proceeds (approximately 20% ) going to this project.

Finally - please spread the word by linking to this site or my Chipin on your social networks, tell your friends, and if you have any ideas on great webby ways to fundraise, please let me know. It's not easy!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Opportunity International fundraising event

Shouting out For Love by David Armano

If you live in Melbourne - please be my guest at Shout Out Social this Saturday!

This celebration of creativity for positive change will include a digital exhibition of images and words created by people around the world, and a video message from the inspiring visual journalist Eileen Clegg. Special guest speaker, actor and playwright Shahin Shafaei will be there to share some words, drawing upon his incredible personal story.

Shahin Shafaei, an acclaimed actor and playwright in his native home of Iran fled his country after having his work banned. He found his way to Australia in 2000 through Indonesian people smugglers, and ended up spending 22 months at Curtin immigration detention center in WA - 10 of those months in isolation. These days Shahin continues his creative work and empowers others to share their own amazing stories through the arts.

This special event will be held one night only - Saturday 14th March 5pm to 7pm at Horse Bazaar in Melbourne (which kicks on until late.) Entry is free and a donation box will be available to raise funds for a Opportunity International Australia project.

Invite your friends and RSVP to the event on Facebook or make a $10 donation today to help fund a Filipino microfinance project - helping families and communities out of poverty.

Hope to see you there!