Often as I excitedly talk to new students, supporters, or friends about the new things going on at the Microfinance Site, my enthusiasm is met with a blank stare. Generally it's not that they don't care although that might occasionally happen as well.  Mostly, I just forget that they have no idea what I am talking about and lets be honest with ourselves, for the average human being the word Microfinance doesn't exactly conjure up feelings of enthusiasm or exhilaration.

With that said, let me try to sum it up simply.  A Microfinance institution is simply a bank that works with small amounts of money.  Often, as Americans we take for granted the countless financial services that we have at our fingertips that we almost don't even realize that we have them.   However, imagine life without access to savings accounts or credit.  Imagine trying to start a new business but having no shot at getting a loan.  Instead, you have to try to convince your neighbors to loan you the money.  Imagine, trying to save a measly $5 because it is all you have but knowing that in order to pay for transportation to the bank it is going to cost you $3.  Instead, you keep the five bucks at home and hide it under your pillow only to discover several weeks later that your spouse gave it to your sister-in-law because she needed the money for some medication.  Imagine having your son get sick and not being able to afford the medication that is the difference between life and death.  Your only option is a loan shark that charges 120% interest annually.  These are not just scenarios but things that happen often among the poorest of the poor here in the Dominican Republic.

One of our associate's small business!  Since this picture has been
taken, Ramona's business has grown from a fried food stand to a comedor
that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  However, the most exciting part
about Ramona's story is that not only has her business been growing,
but that she has accepted Christ through the whole process.
The Microfinance ministry site here in Jarabacoa seeks to meet many of those same financial needs.  We offer loan and savings opportunities as well as financial education to men and women who want to start or expand their own small business.  After three years of work, we have seen associates learn to keep business records for the first time.  Associates who have learned the freedom that comes with saving instead of buying on credit.  Associates who are organizing their personal finances for the first time.  And we have seen associates who started with virtually nothing and can now completely support themselves via their own small business.  They are exciting developments but not quite our whole vision.

Our final goal here at the MF Site is not to simply to see our associate's pockets bulging with money.  Our goal is to use financial services to build relationships with each one of our associates and to share the Gospel by caring for their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.  Sometimes this can be helping a mother clean her house while she tells you the struggles she goes through.  Other times, it can mean taking a mother and sick child to the hospital and praying for them.  Helping small children with homework or taking mother's to a woman's conference.   In essence, our desire is to provide great financial services that changes hearts and not just bank accounts, that changes lives and not just the size of the house they live in  Our desire is that through financial services, each one of our associates might come to know a lasting hope, an unending love, an incredible redeemer.  We hope that through our financial services, our associates would come to know their Creator.

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