Friday, June 15, 2012

Microfinance...What's That Mean Again?

What do you think we will be doing here at the Microfinance (MF) Site  in the next two weeks?  I often pose this question the first day to the American students who work in my site and almost always the answer goes something like this,  “I’m not really sure,  probably work with money?”  While that answer is technically correct, I don’t generally spend much of my time sitting around counting stacks of $20s and making coin rolls.  It’s often funny to me that students give this answer, but I also can’t fault them for it.  In fact, I remember sitting as a student at the MF Site wondering the same thing.  Here at Students International, it is easy to guess what a person might do at the Education Site, Health Site, or Dental Site and most people would be able to give you a good idea of how each of those sites improve a person’s quality of life.  But Microfinance, a site that provides financial services?  How are they helping and why is it necessary?

While most of us hear the word finance and our minds wander off to 401k’s, large bank buildings, and rich guys in suits walking down Wall Street, the word finance in a majority of the world will drum up more down to earth images with often tough, life implications.

They drum up images of a single mother of four, overwhelmed, undereducated, and having no idea how she is going to make ends meet for the month.  Someone desperately starting their own business in hopes to put food on the table, working extremely hard and only failing because they didn’t really know what they were doing.  Living life without any savings, without anybody to catch you when you fall and without somebody to help you get back.  Having a child that gets sick and having no money to afford the medication.  Either the child dies or borrow money from a loan shark who charges over 100% interest annually.  Having no place to save money because there is simply no place to put it.  Living in a dysfunctional family and having nobody to teach you the importance of managing your money well. 

So while providing loans and savings opportunities is part of the MF Site here in the Dominican Republic, we don’t just walk around in suits and ties counting and collecting money.  We walk with our associates through the daily grind of everyday life, through the difficulties, whether they be physical, emotional, or spiritual, and we point them to the One who has all the answers, the One who needs no finances, and the One provides out of His own glorious riches.  Jesus Christ.

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