Saturday, September 29, 2012

Spirit of Partnership...

We’ve had an amazing start to our journey in Cajamarca.  The women of the DiscoverHope village banks have greeted us with unbelievable openness and generosity.  As we settle into our journey this week, we have much to do in addition to visiting the women of the village banks and taking in local sights.

One of the objectives of our visit is to continue to ensure the long-term sustainability of the program in Cajamarca.  Sustainability is a critical component of our Loan – Learn – Lead - Legacy model. By transitioning the local administration of training and loans to local partners, we create a Legacy of the MicrocreditPLUS infrastructure in Cajamarca.  As our clients complete each loan cycle, they build their credit history.  Once they have reached their 9th loan cycle, they will “graduate” to more traditional banking service organizations with a history of consistent savings. We’re currently in our 6th loan cycle with 5 of our banks, so our first banks are only a few years from graduating!

During our visit, we are meeting with our local partner, Multicredit, to monitor the progression of our clients in their loan and savings path.  We are working with Multicredit to continue to assume additional ownership for the program as it grows.  

Enclosed is a team picture at our kick-off dinner with our Mutlicredit partners.  We’re also meeting with our village bank officers (promotoras) and Desiree, our Field Manager, and other key staff contributors to make sure they continue on the path of advancement. These are important tenants of the Lead and Legacy pillars of our model. 

We appreciate your continued support as we help create a sustainable Microcredit PLUS infrastructure in Northern Peru!

John, Hector, and Maggie

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Final Preparations for Cajamarca Trip!

Only a few days until Maggie, Hector and I travel to Cajamarca to visit the incredible women of DiscoverHope Fund! 

We’ve been preparing for this trip the past couple of months.  Over that time, I have had the opportunity to talk to people about our trip, why we’re going and who we’re going to visit and I occasionally get the question, “Why Peru?”, or “Why not somewhere closer to home or in the U.S.?”  Good questions.  Peru is a long way from Austin, TX. 

While we do have roots in Peru because Maggie lived and worked there for 2 years, that doesn’t answer the question of why we stay there.  We could have moved or chosen a different location to develop our MicroCredit PLUS model, but we didn’t. 

We’re there because we have the ability to facilitate huge change in people’s lives with a relatively small investment.  We’re there because a loan of just $100 to a women who lives on less than $2 / per day is life changing.    It’s a place where $25 provides a training course for a room full of our clients who are eager to learn.  It’s a place where there is no other microcredit alternative for the poorest of the poor. And it’s a place where women want and need what we provide.

DiscoverHope -- this tiny little grass-roots non-profit in Austin, TX, that is continually lifted up by you, our steadfast supporters, generous donors and tireless volunteers, is literally changing the lives of thousands of people for the better.  We’re developing and perfecting a model that can be used again and again in any part of the world.  And our first site is in the northern highlands of Peru where we can support our clients in making a huge impact on their own lives and those of their families.

In a few days, Maggie, Hector and I will be ambassadors for the entire family of DiscoverHope supporters as we visit the towns and villages where lives have been changed.  Having been involved with DiscoverHope for almost 5 years now, I am humbled and honored to make this trip and very excited to see the faces or our clients, hear their experiences, and share in their hardships and successes, if only for a few days.

I think the famous quote by Margaret Mead embodies the spirit of both our DiscoverHope supporters and the incredible women we serve:

"Never underestimate the power of a small, dedicated group of people to change the world; indeed, that is the only thing that ever has."

In gratitude,


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Voyage to Peru & Annual Gala on Oct 25

Dear DiscoverHope Family,

As we prepare for the annual DiscoverHope gala on October 25, I wanted to write you personally as I prepare for a return trip to Cajamarca Peru from Sept 27-Oct 7. This time, I am honored to share the journey with my fellow Board superstars, incredible Board Chair John Thornborrow and new Boardie positive powerhouse Hector Dominguez.

I truly hope you can join us at the gala where we will be returning from fresh inspiration and community building in the northern Andes.  I am so privileged to take this voyage with these two mentors and friends. 

John has been at the Heart of DiscoverHope since shortly after our formation as a nonprofit in 2006.  He is one of the most committed and compassionate people I know and has led our Board with absolute vision for many years.  John and his family are Legacy Donors who support an entire community village bank of women to receive several loans a year as well as customized business support to maximize their education and resourcefulness. I am truly excited for John to be greeted by their bank of women (El Girasol “The Sunflowers”) and their families out in the field.  We will be sure to capture the beautiful images for the gala!

Hector entered our Board family with absolute dynamism this past spring.  He brings the core leadership of a practiced and successful entrepreneur who marries his passions of technology and social impact.  There’s nothing more inspirational than learning from a World Changer who sees tech as a solution to give power to help people globally.  It will be quite an experience to watch him in our computer classes and marvel at effect that $100 microloan can have for an entrepreneur.

For DiscoverHope, this trip is about the beginning of a discussion about transition into local sustainability. Our view is that good international development means you give the power to people to use facilitate their enterprise.  Sustainability for us is not only about finances; it is about community well-being and leadership.  We will begin the conversation with our local partner to hire a local woman organizer to take the helm of HopeHouse program development in the field. Des (our Program Director from US who lives in the field) will step out of this role into more of a governance role and train the locals to begin to assume coordination and management. 

My very first days in Peru were accented by powerful women making the most unselfish of choices to raise their children on $2 a day.  One unmistakable pattern I will never forget in the hundreds of life-changing conversations was that every woman spoke of her absolute willingness and desire to give her family a future. Give a handUP, not a handout. Give the power to make a sustainable life for children.

And here we are!  I can’t wait to write you from the field.  Stay tuned and so hope you can join us on Oct 25 to celebrate women entrepreneurs both inAustin and beyond.

Loving Always!
DiscoverHope Founder