Spes Nova is a 501(c)(3), non-profit organization whose mission is to help alleviate poverty in some of the poorest regions of the world. While outright gifts and donations are welcomed in these communities, there are other approaches which offer longer term benefits while supporting the dignity of the working poor and drawing on their own desires to improve the lives of their families and neighbors, and eventually allowing them to escape from poverty.
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a life time. --- Chinese Proverb
In today’s world, perhaps this could be rewritten:
Give a person food and they’ll feed their family today. Lend them the money to start a business and help them find markets for their products and they’ll employ their village.
That’s our goal. Working with local lenders that we have vetted and monitor, we identify entrepreneurs who want to start or expand businesses. These are often basic industries (such as farming, fishing or handmade textiles) and the loans are typically modest by many of our standards (we currently average $500), but the impact can be profound, leading to sustainable employment and income for people and their familes.
The microfinance movement is increasingly well established (see Background), but suffers from several shortcomings:
- it’s expensive (traditional microfinance institutions (MFIs) charge interest rates of 25-40% or more),
- the MFIs can lose their way, extending loans for consumer consumption (rather than purely focusing on creating employment and business opportunities), and
- the most successful entrepreneurs can become victims of their own success (outstripping the ability of their local communities to absorb their products or services).
Spes Nova and your generosity deal directly with each of these pitfalls. Through our Micro Credit operations, we are working toward cutting the current interest rates in half or less. Working only with MFIs that we know, trust and audit, we only make loans for commercial purposes. And through our Market Development operations, we help local entrepreneurs reach global marke ts.
Working together, we complete a virtuous cycle.