Addressing Global Poverty One Family at a Time

The Microfinance Project is based on the Unitarian Universalist principles that “we covenant to affirm and promote … justice, equity and compassion in human relations” and having a “world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.”

The basic idea: Make small loans to people living on the edge, so they can increase their earning power, escape poverty, and make a better living for their families. Often, poor people are not able to borrow money to buy small equipment items or materials necessary for their businesses. Banks are few in rural areas. The UUCS microfinance project is trying to help people that banks cannot or will not help.

For the church year 2016-17, we will be focusing on projects with the NEO Fund in Nicaragua and with IMANI in Kenya.

Our Successes

UUCS Microfinance Project has been raising funds since 2008. Our first project was in Laos and resulted in establishing a permanent revolving loan fund benefiting women and their families. Over the past year, we raised and sent out $8,739 to our partner organizations, Chijnaya, The NEO Fund, and IMANI, to benefit poor families in Peru, Nicaragua, and Kenya.

Microfinance Results in Nicaragua In 2016, we entered into a partnership with The NEO Fund to focus on the poorest of the poor in Nicaragua — those individuals that live near the dumps.  Lending will help these individuals earn a sustainable living and provide a boost out of poverty.  Some individual stories are profiled below.  The NEO Fund will identify recipients, provide technical support, and give us reports on the progress of the people using micro lending.  We are tentatively planning a visit to Nicaragua in 2017.

  • Microfinance Results in Laos Khoutkeo's success with the microfinance project in LaosIn the first three years of the UUCS Microfinance Project, we successfully raised $13,000 to provide small loans to silk and bamboo weavers in two villages in Laos. In the first three years, contributions from the UUCS-provided rotating loan fund in Laos of over $13,000 to artisans in two villages in ...
  • Microfinance Results in Peru Friends in PeruIn 2012, the UUCS Microfinance Committee decided to focus on Peru. Our partner community is Chillin, a poor village located about 13,000 feet in the harsh altiplano of southern Peru. The main economic activities are agriculture, animal husbandry, cheese production, knitted woolen clothing, and ceramics. Cows and alpaca are particularly ...

How You Can Help

Our UU congregation can help The Neo Fund assist more poor Nicaraguans like Rebecca and Aurora!  Please contribute to the UUCS Microfinance Project by donating during “Share the Plate” or writing a check payable to the UUCS noting that it is for the Microfinance Project.

We invite you to participate in the project by joining the UUCS Microfinance Committee, helping to select projects, and assisting with our fundraisers.  Contact Ann Hanus at ann.hanus@gmail.com for more information.

Some Personal Success Stories

  • Microfinance Results in Kenya UUCS Microfinance Project made it possible for these Kenyan women to realize a harvest that will provide food for their families and money for healthcare and educationThe UUCS Microfinance Project with IMANI resulted in a successful corn harvest for these women in Kenya despite ongoing draught conditions.  As a result, each woman will have two large bags of corn to feed their families and funds to help pay for healthcare and education costs.    We will be providing ...
  • Aurora’s Success Story Microfinance - Aurora in la ChurecaAurora was born in the city dump called La Chureca and grew up there with thirteen brothers and sisters. They drank water from the polluted lake. They dug through the trash searching for plastic recyclables. They didn’t go to school. Aurora couldn’t read or write. One day her father found ...
  • Rebecca’s Success Story Rebecca from Nicaragua finds success with the Neo FundRebecca started cooking traditional Nicaraguan dishes and selling them out of her home 4 years ago. She has taken 3 micro-loans, totaling $370, to grow her business and now she is applying for a fourth. Rebecca smiles when she reports that Neo Fund loans “helped me increase my income and ...
  • Sra. Gladis Paca Peri’s Success Story Sra. Gladis Paca PeriSra. Gladis Pacca Peri is a recipient of one of the microfinance loans.  She is in her late 40’s and has three sons. Her husband, Dionisio, is a mason who often works out of town, so Gladis often assumes responsibility for raising both their children and their cattle. She has ...
  • Khamkong’s Success Story Khamkong of Thaphosay, LaosKhamkong is unmarried with no children and lives in Thaphosay Village, a twenty minute motorbike ride from Phonesong Village.  Two decades ago, her family migrated from a remote district. Almost as poor as Tiad and her husband, they had nothing when they arrived: no land and few possessions. Khamkong began ...
  • Tiad’s Success Story Tiad's success with the microfinance projectTiad lives in the tiniest, poorest house of all those we interviewed. She and her husband Kong weave baskets. Tiad and her husband married 4 years ago after serious financial difficulties where he lost his land and incurred major debt. They left their original village to start from scratch in ...
  • Khoutkeo’s Success Story Khoutkeo's success with the microfinance project in LaosKhoutkeo of Phonesong Village is a 33 years old farmer and bamboo basket weaver; she has two young teenagers. Her family cultivates rice. In addition, she grows fruit trees and vegetables, and raises ducks and chickens. As a result, her family does not have to buy much food. However, her ...

Links to More Information

Where did this idea come from?

How did UUCS select a non-profit local Partner Organization?

To find out more about our partner organizations, check out their websites:

The NEO Fund:   http://www.theneofund.org

The IMANI Project: www.imaniproject.org (Kenya)

PADETC: www.padetc.org (Laos)

SaoBan: www.saobancrafts.com (marketing arm of PADETC)

The Chijnaya Foundation:www.chijnayafoundation.org (Peru)
Project updates from Chijnaya Foundation

To learn about the abduction and disappearance of Sombath Somphone, PADETC founder, see www.sombath.org or find him in Wikipedia.