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Unitus Microcredit Loans

Lessons, impressions, and thoughts that I have about the powerful poverty-fighting tool of Microcredit and how Unitus is accelerating the growth of Microfinance around the globe.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Unitus and ACCION and the Clinton Global Initiative

Maria Otero (ACCION International) & Geoff Davis (Unitus)

In a recent post, I mentioned the Clinton Global Initiative and how there would be exciting news from the conference that related to Unitus.

Well, in a just published Unitus Newsletter, we learn more about this exciting development.

Here is from the newsletter:

From September 15-17, former President Clinton convened world leaders in New York City for the Clinton Global Initiative. They discussed four main goals: poverty reduction; religious reconciliation; combating climate change; and strengthening governments and economies. Unlike many other conferences, Clinton asked each participant to commit to action in one of these four areas. In his words, "If you don't want to make a commitment, don't come; and if you don't follow through on a commitment, don't come back."

We were up to the task. Together with ACCION, our partner in the Unitus-ACCION Alliance for India, we pledged to provide microfinance services to 15 million of India's working poor by 2015. This commitment was one of only four recognized at the Friday evening plenary session. In fact, President Clinton himself presented the commitment certificate to Unitus Board Vice Chair Elizabeth Funk and ACCION President and CEO Maria Otero!

The meetings were a tremendous success, with participants committing more than $1.25 billion to work toward the Intiative's goals. We are energized by the work ahead of us, and we pledge to not only report back to President Clinton at this time next year, but to keep you informed about our progress every step of the way.

I am very excited and pleased for such great involvement. A big thanks needs to go to Elizabeth Funk and the ACCION team for all their behind the scenes work to get this initiative accepted.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Promote Unitus

Just as I finished publishing the last post about how to make the ideas of Unitus more viral, Dave Shappell of Unitus emails me with a post about a new "Promote Unitus" page that includes all the html code to make it easy for someone to add a link to Unitus on their website or insert it in their blog. One of the things needed to make an idea viral is to make it easy to promote. This is way easy.

Come on - want to help the cause? Add a link. It is easy. It is quick. It is fun!

Have a Heart - Add a Unitus Link!

How to make Unitus a Viral Concept

I recently read a post by Seth Godin about what makes an idea viral. He states that to make an idea viral, the idea must be sent and must be received. He makes the following points:
No one "sends" an idea unless:
a. they understand it
b. they want it to spread
c. they believe that spreading it will enhance their power (reputation, income, friendships) or their peace of mind
d. the effort necessary to send the idea is less than the benefits

No one "gets" an idea unless:
a. the first impression demands further investigation
b. they already understand the foundation ideas necessary to get the new idea
c. they trust or respect the sender enough to invest the time

One of the challenges of Unitus is how to make its message so simple that people can "get" it quickly and without a lot of education. Having more people educated about microfinance, will make it easier for the Unitus message to be told. That is why I think that things like the upcoming PBS documentary on Microcredit, called "Small Fortunes" and features, among others, our own Geoff Davis and Mike Murray, will help the cause. It will expose many more to the basics and power of microcredit in helping to alleviate poverty.

So back to the basic thought - how can we help make the ideas of Unitus become viral?

Here are some of my thoughts:

- We have to make the Unitus message very simple
- We need to make the Unitus message intriguing so it leads to further investigation
- We need to have a core of people who understand that message
- We need to make it very easy for people to share that message

How do you think we can make the ideas of Unitus viral?

Friday, September 23, 2005

Clinton Global Initiative

Last week, the Clinton Global Initiative was held in New York and in coming days, there will be exciting news about Unitus' involvment in the Initiative.

The Clinton Global Initiative is a non-partisan endeavor, bringing together a carefully selected group of the world’s best minds and most distinguished problem solvers to focus on practical, effective measures that can be taken now. These leaders - from a wide variety of political, ideological, religious, ethnic, and geographic backgrounds - include current and former heads of state, top business executives, preeminent scholars, and representatives of key non-governmental organizations. The Clinton Global Initiative coincides with the Millennium Summit of this fall’s U.N. General Assembly.

There were three sessions on Poverty. The three sessions on global poverty focused on "how best to marry our policies and resources to the dynamism of poor communities and the innovation of the market."

Here are summaries of the focus of the three sessions:

“The Critical Moment in the Fight against Poverty”

Speakers' line up (in alphabetical order):
Mr. Kemal Dervis, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme
Dr. Donald Kaberuka, President, African Development Bank
His Excellency Thabo Mbeki, President of the Republic of South Africa
Mr. Javier Solana, Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union
The Honorable Paul Wolfowitz, President, World Bank Group

This session will focus on building new global commitments to increase aid, expand trade, and deepen debt relief. It will examine how aid can be increased and more effectively invested in building the capacity of the poor; it will identify specific policy changes that can unleash the power of trade to reduce poverty; and it will propose additional steps to ease the burden of debt. The Session will also address the fundamentals of a new partnership between the developed and developing worlds—particularly seeking to define ways that the pro-investment climate sought by the developed world can accompany the pro-development investment sought by the developing world.

“A Pro-Poor Investment Strategy”

Speakers' line up (in alphabetical order)
His Excellency Abdullah Abdullah, Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
Mr. Ira Magaziner, Chairman, Clinton Foundation Policy Board; Chairman, Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative
Ms. Jacqueline Novogratz, Founder and CEO, Acumen Fund
Mr. Pierre Omidyar, Co-Founder and CEO, Omidyar Network; Founder and Chairman, eBay Inc.
Ms. Sonal Shah, Founder, Indicorps
Prof. Muhammad Yunus, Founder and Managing Director, Grameen Bank

This session will focus on how investment strategies can build on the entrepreneurial capital provided by the poor, harnessing the innovation derived from local knowledge and capitalizing on the dynamism of the market. Participants in this session will explore concrete examples of pro-poor business models that have successfully fostered and sustained entrepreneurial initiative; developed and sustained distribution mechanisms; measured long-term results; and lifted entire communities out of poverty. This session will also investigate the displays of political will—and muscle—that were required to break through the usual obstacles to success.

“Scaling Up and Protecting Investments”

Speakers' line up (in alphabetical order)
Mr. Peter Bakker, CEO, TNT N.V.
Dr. Wangari M. Maathai, MP, Founder, The Greenbelt Movement
Prof. Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director, Earth Institute, Columbia University; Director, UN Millennium Project
Mr. Juan Somavia, Director General of the International Labor Organization
The Honorable Gene B. Sperling, Director of the Center for Universal Education, Council on Foreign Relations; Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress
Ms. Patty Stonesifer, Co-Chair and President, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

In this session, the focus will shift to how development successes can be brought to achieve maximum impact—in services, environmental protection, job creation, and the fight against HIV/AIDS. The Session will detail examples of successful development initiatives; highlight efforts to build national capacity; and consider how aid and market-based strategies can expand the reach of development efforts.

Keep posted for more news about this event and Unitus' involvement here!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Pic with President Jimmy Carter and Unitus

From Left to Right:

Mike Murray, Geoff Davis, Jimmy Carter, Geoff Woolley, Warner Woodworth.

I found this photo when I was cruising Warner's website. This photo was taken at Snowbird, Utah right after a Unitus Board trip visiting Pro-Mujer in Mexico.

Warner stated: I feel that Jimmy Carter is without a doubt one of the greatest humanitarians in our country's history.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Warner Woodworth - Unitus Board Member


How does one try to capture who Warner is and what impact on the world he has had with his life?

For example, check out the awards he has accumulated from his service.

Or look at the media interviews and coverage he has been involved with.

Do you want to see what type of teacher Warner is? Consider the student comments that have been made about Warner.

Consider the 700+ Conference Presentations he has given.

Or consider the Non Profit organizations he has formed or helped form:

Enterprise Mentors: International Enterprise Development Foundation--Economic development research and consulting on the informal economy of the Third World, starting in the Philippines (1990); raising $400,000 and organizing a board of directors, setting up a staff to do training and technical assistance in Manila. By the mid 1990s expansions include two other centers in the Philippines, plus start ups in Brazil and Mexico which have led to skill building for the poor, vocational training and mentoring, culminating in the creation of credit unions, worker cooperatives, and hundreds of families enjoying new jobs and a higher living standard. There are five offices in the Philippines, two in Guatemala, three in Mexico, and one each in Brazil, El Salvador, and Peru.

Ouelessebougou-Utah Alliance: Launched economic development effort among seventy-two indigenous villages of 35,000 people in southern Mali, West Africa. Working with a U.S. board, Mali field staff, and graduate students from BYU, U. of U., and Harvard, a development program was designed to create rural, worker-owned cooperatives for women. A village banking system was established to provide access to credit for poor, would-be microentrepreneurs. Training programs in basic business, financial skills, and management were prepared, tested, and refined for use in creating hundreds of new jobs, higher incomes, and dozens of rural cooperatives.

Global Job Creation: Collaborated with students in action research teams to design and implement economic development strategies for the poor in Third World areas of Indonesia, Nigeria, Kenya, Jamaica, as well as in Bulgaria, Russia, the United States (Wyoming, Florida, and Utah Valley), the Navajo Nation, and the Goshute Tribe. New NGOs were created including Chasqui Humanitarian Foundation of the Andes (for Peru), Humanitarian Link (for Kenya), the Liahona Foundation (for Nigeria), the Russian Enterprise Development Foundation, Inc, and H.E.L.P. Honduras economic development in Central America. This was expanded to H.E.L.P. International and change agents were sent to not only Honduras, but El Salvador, Peru and Venezuela. More recently H.E.L.P. has expanded to Bolivia, Brazil, and Guatemala as well.

Unitus: In 1999, business colleagues and I formed this new NGO as a microfinance accelerator. I was the first chairman of the board of trustees and so far we've raised and committed $6.4 million to our partners: Pro Mujer in Mexico and SKS India in Andra Pradesh. This innovative strategy for scaling up microcredit to tens of thousands of poor families is building a global reputation.

Developing Western China: A new strategy was designed to respond to requests for technical assistance from various regions in China - Guangxi, Yunnan, and especially Sichuan provinces. A team from the Marriott School has mounted a major participatory action research project to do economic development among poor ethnic communities.

MicroBusiness Mentors: Local nonprofit social enterprise established to fight poverty and build family sustainability among poor Latinos in Provo, Utah. M&Ms provides microbusiness training, loans to start new microenterprises, and pro bono mentoring/consulting.

Global Change Agents, Inc.: President of a nonprofit capacity-building technical assistance firm providing training, assessment and consulting to NGOs around the world.

Center for Economic Self-Reliance
: Culminating 15 years of work to put BYU on the global map, CESR was officially established in late 2002 with $3 million in outside funding. Research, conferences, a journal, and numerous student internships will help build family self-reliance around the world.

I guess the biggest impact that Warner has had is upon the hearts of those who have heard him, been stirred into action from reading his writings, have been inspired by observing his tireless commitment to the poor, and have worked along side him. Time and time again, I meet someone whose life has changed direction as a result of some encounter with Warner.

I had the opportunity to have Warner as my Thesis Chair, when I got my Master's Degree in International Studies about Third World Development. But I had already drunken the kool-aid even before that. Warner has been a mentor and a hero to me for over a decade now. My life is better because of the influence of Warner in my life.

Unitus is fortunate to have your influence, experience, and leadership.

Thanks, Warner.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Geoff Davis Podcasting on 94.9 KUOW

You can listen to a recent interview with Geoff Davis, President and CEO of Unitus, on Seattle's 94.9 KUOW:

Here is the intro to the interview:

Global poverty is too large of a problem to be solved by any one solution. But several global economists think that microcredit might be a big first step. The idea is to make small loans, usually about a hundred dollars, available to impoverished people who can use the money to start a small business or improve an existing business. A hundred dollars can go a long way in some developing countries toward allowing people a chance to grow their business, reinvest in it, and achieve at least a minimum of financial stability.

Here is the podcast of the interview

Sunday, September 18, 2005


I spent Thursday and Friday in Park City at a learning lab sponsored by the BYU Center for Economic Self Reliance on Microfranchising.

Microfranchising is utilizing the franchising model in a scaled down model to help the poor have sound business opportunities.

It is proposed that MicroFranchising would solve the following problems in the effort to the effort to increase economic self-reliance among the poor:

1. Not all entrepreneurs have tools needed for success.

2. Not all people have an entrepreneurial spirit and would be better suited as employees.

3. MicroFranchising is an efficient method for the delivery of services to the poor.

So the concept is - build a very simple business, get the processes down flat, make sure it is a profitable business model, find a way to make it replicatable, and then find a way to roll it out.

Grameen has done this in sorts with their Village Phones:

- Grameen Bank provides microloans to women in rural Bangladesh to purchase a "Village Phone"
- Grameen Telecom administrates the village phones
- Village Phone is available to anyone in the village who wishes to make or receive a call
- Current, more than 55,000 phones are in operation
- Impacts:
1) Franchisees earn a sustainable income
2) Rural Bangladesh is connected to rest of world

This is how it works financially:

- Franchisee is given the phone and equipment (US$220) - must be repaid to Grameen through weekly installments
- Franchisee pays minimum monthly rate (US$3) and then a per-minute
- Users are charge variable per minute rates depending on time and location
- Average net income for franchisee is US$50-100/month

It seems like this could be another tool in the toolchest in how to fight poverty.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Unitus Fund Profile by Microcapital Institute

Microcaptial Institute calls itself as the premier source of information and research on investment opportunities in commercial microfinance. You can sign up for a free newsletter as well. They did the following profile on Unitus:

Fund Profile
Unitus: Venture Capital for Microfinance

Entrepreneurs in California’s Silicon Valley and places like Redmond, Washington, recognize the important role of venture capital in getting significant enterprises off to a good start. Now some of those entrepreneurs are applying the same principles to microfinance.

While not a for-profit business, Redmond-based Unitus believes strongly that commercial thinking is crucial to make microfinance institutions (MFIs) a success. It wants to act as a venture capital firm for promising lower-tier MFIs – providing funds and expertise to help them grow and fulfill their missions.

Unitus was founded and is partly funded by Mike Murray, a former executive at Apple and Microsoft. Murray is the organization’s chairman, and its CEO is Geoff Davis, who previously formed a microfinance institution in Mexico and was the first employee of Grameen Foundation USA.

The non-profit currently has partnerships with MFIs in Mexico, India and Kenya, and expects to announce several more in the coming months. Operating expenses and the initial partnerships are funded by large donors, many of whom made money in technology. But in January, Unitus plans to launch a commercial debt-only microfinance investment fund that will be open to accredited individuals and institutions. An equity fund is expected to follow.

Unitus (pronounced as the combination of ‘unite’ and ‘us’) calls itself a “global microfinance accelerator.” The strategy, says Davis, is to partner with smaller MFIs with good growth potential in a promising market, and provide both funding and consulting to help them grow. Strong growth not only allows the partner MFIs to reach more clients, it also helps them become self-sufficient and makes them attractive for further commercial funding.

Unitus believes that for microfinance to do what it is capable of doing, hundreds of MFIs will have to grow to the point where they are serving a client base of more than 100,000 people each. They note that most of the world’s NGO-based MFIs start small and stay small, serving fewer than 2,500 poor borrowers.

Part of what makes Unitus different from many commercial microfinance funds or bank lenders in the sector is the target market. Rather than reaching out to the top 100 or so largest MFIs that are already rated by outside agencies and have commercial or quasi-commercial track records, Davis says the Unitus plan is to “go down-market and help bring them up to the major leagues.”

“We have a combination of tools we use to help the (MFI) partners accelerate” their growth, Davis says, including grants for “capacity building,” equity investments, loan guarantees and lines of credit. And, he adds, “It’s a partnership, not just an investment … we become very involved.”

“Our fundamental mission is for microfinance to reach its potential, and for that we need to move away from the donor and government perspective to a commercial perspective,” Davis says.

Davis says he learned two major lessons running an MFI in partnership with a non-profit in Mexico. First, “It really worked, it had a powerful impact on lives.” And second, small local entrepreneurs “are incredibly smart about what they are doing in terms of market, product and other business principles.”

“This doesn’t need to be a paternalistic approach,” he says of microfinance. “This is just an opportunity.”

So far, Unitus has major investments of both money and expertise in Pro Mujer Mexico, SKS in India and Jamii Bora in Kenya. It provides funding in a combination of grants, equity investments, loans and credit lines. The monetary commitment to SKS, as an example, amounts to nearly $4.7 million.

The microfinance accelerator model seems to be working. SKS has reported more than 200 percent growth in clients served in 2004. Unitus says its first three MFI partners currently serve 160,000 borrowers.

A crucial question for any venture capital investor is the exit strategy – and Unitus has some interesting ideas there as well. It has a 5-7 year timeline for individual MFI investments, and expects to exit investments through public listing of the MFIs, acquisitions, enough improvements in growth and efficiency to allow its investment to be bought out by the MFI, or a community buyout through retirement or mutual fund-type accounts.

Some of those exit strategies may sound far-fetched, but Davis believes that over the next few years, MFIs will grow enough – especially in places like India – to make it likely they can transform into publicly held microfinance companies. Unitus is already working with an investment bank that specializes in emerging markets to make this a reality.

“Things are changing dramatically and very rapidly in the industry,” Davis says. “That gives me great hope, and that pace I think is going to continue.”

Geoff Davis - Awarded one of the 40 under 40 Rising Business Stars

Here is a nice article about Geoff Davis, the CEO of Unitus. Geoff is one of the "40 under Forty" business leaders that was chosen by the Puget Sound Business Journal, as one of the area's rising business stars, and as having the "underlying ability to lead the community".

I have observed Geoff to be passionate, inspired and very effective as the head honcho of Unitus.

Davis, 33, evolved into his current role as he tried to reconcile what he calls a "love of market dynamics" with an almost genetic understanding of the needs of people in the developing world. His grandfather was one of the first administrators in Southeast Asia for the Peace Corps.

Then there's Davis' yen for scalability. When Davis was 10 he started buying pop for 50 cents a can and selling it for $1 at construction sites. Soon he'd forged a neighborhood youth pop-selling franchise; he supplied the capital and got a percentage. At 12 he organized the neighborhood into a lawn-mowing collective.

Davis tried the corporate world following his undergraduate years, but his heart wasn't in it. "I understood my grandfather's wanting to do good in the world," he said. When he first learned about microlending -- and the reality that half the world's people have no access to affordable capital to help them start small enterprises -- he "was totally smitten with the concept of using business principles to help people."

With his own compass clear, Davis returned to school, earned a master's degree in public policy and developmental economics from Harvard Business School in 2001, and founded Unitus that same summer.

We are proud of you, Geoff. It is well deserved.

Technically, the author of the above article didn't get it exactly right. While Geoff has been an integral part and leader of Unitus, he joined Unitus about 18 months after it had been founded, rather than being one of the founders of Unitus as the article mentioned.

Here is some more background on Geoff:

For the last nine years, Geoff has worked with microfinance programs worldwide, beginning with a program he founded in central Mexico. He was an early employee at Grameen Foundation USA, a global microfinance leader, and has spoken extensively on microcredit, including lectures and speeches at the International Monetary Fund, at Harvard University and on National Public Radio. He is a board member of Pro Mujer Mexico and SKS India, and he is an advisor to the Miracle Wine Fund. Prior to his work in microfinance, Geoff served as director of international business development for a California biomedical firm and was the founder and president of a translation company. Geoff holds a B.A. in international relations from Brigham Young University and a master's degree in development economics and public policy from Harvard University.

Unitus and ACCION - Two of the World's Leading Microfinance Organizations

Well (blush). Thanks for the recognition.

India Daily has an article about the recent announcement about the Unitus / ACCION alliance in India. The title of the article is:

Microfinance giants form strategic alliance in India

and starts out the article by stating:
Two of the world's leading microfinance organisations, ACCION Internatinal and Unitus, on Thursday announced creation of the Unitus-ACCION Alliance for India, a strategic partnership designed to help develop a large-scale and profitable microfinance industry.

One, it is an honor to be recognized in such estimed company as ACCION. Two, we know there are lots of other world-class organizations engaged in this important work, and three, it is nice to know that Unitus is getting recognition for the innovative organization that it is.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Peer to Peer Lending

A friend showed me this site the other day - Zopa.com - which is a P2P lending group with no bank in the middle. You can be either a lender (and you get the interest paid) or a borrower.

Here is part of Zopa's pitch:

Zopa though lets people who have spare money to lend it directly to people, like them, who want to borrow it. No bank in the middle, no huge overheads, no unethical investments.

To minimise any risk, the money each lender puts in is spread amongst at least 50 borrowers (and likewise each borrower gets their money from a number of different lenders).

Zopa is, therefore, for people who want to be a part of something new. Who want to join a community of like-minded individuals and lend to them and borrow from them in a trusting but secure way.

Zopa is for people who are looking for a better rate of return. Zopa’s interest rates aren’t squeezed by middlemen (the banks) because there are no middlemen - that’s the Zopa idea.

To me, it seems to be part of the democratization process. We are seeing democratization of media, where the media is no longer centrally controlled, we are seeing the p2p adoption of the music industry. Here is another step in that process - peer to peer lending.

There seems to be some interesting parallels to Microlending. Microcredit takes banking to the lender (instead of the lender going to the bank). Microcredit doesn't require collateralization, it uses social collateral as a payback motivator. Zopa uses things like your eBay rank as part of your credit score.

Interesting concept. I think it will catch on.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Unitus-ACCION Alliance for India

This had been in planning for a while and was finally announce publically today. This is very exciting. ACCION is such an outstanding organization. Look at what the joint goal is:

Providing access to microfinance services to 15 million of India’s working poor by 2015

What will be ACCION's role?

ACCION will assist commercial entities such as banks and finance companies in extending microfinance products and services and providing technical assistance and training.

What will be Unitus' role?

Unitus will identify high-potential NGO microfinance institutions and speed their growth through grants, capacity-building consulting, and capital investments.

The alliance will provide a permanent and sustainable approach for the continuous development of microfinance services throughout the country. It really is a unique alliance of two very progressive and effective organizations.

Here is the letter I received today:

Dear Tim,

We are extremely excited to announce today the Unitus-ACCION Alliance for India. Through this partnership, Unitus and ACCION International have established a joint goal of providing access to microfinance services to 15 million of India’s working poor by 2015.

You may already be familiar with ACCION International, a leading microfinance organization with more than 35 years of industry leadership. If not, we invite you to learn about ACCION (and subscribe to their e-newsletter) on their Web site:


As far as we know, this alliance is the first time two microfinance organizations have partnered in a large-scale, on-the-ground relationship covering all aspects of microfinance—a relationship that will move the microfinance industry forward not just in a few villages, but across the entire nation of India.

This partnership taps the strengths of both ACCION and Unitus by bringing the commercial world to microfinance (ACCION’s role), and transforming NGOs so that they can operate in the commercial world (Unitus’s role).

To learn more about this partnership, please visit the Unitus Web site:


As always, we appreciate your support.

- The Unitus Team

Here is the Press Release.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Economic Self-Reliance

I am on the board of the Center for Economic Self-Reliance at the Marriott School of Management at Brigham Young University. One of the things that the center has been working on is how do you define Economic Self-Reliance. The center is defining self-reliance as:

Sufficient Resource Generation (Surplus)
+ Provident Living
= Economic Self-Reliance

These definitions work for both those in the developing world as well as the developed world.

Sufficient Resource Generation means the ability to generate enough income to take care of you and your family's needs.

Provident Living means that you don't spend more than you make. It means reducing your risks so you and your family are not exposed. It means being prepared for disasters and rainy days.

Non-profit organizations focus on different types of interventions to assist those who are seeking to become economically self-reliant.

Microcredit works hard on creating sufficient resource generating ability by allowing those who don't have access to capital that resource so they can increase their income generation. Other things could include getting more education so you can increase your earning power, excelling at work so you get promoted or earn more money, or successfully starting a new business.

Provident living includes things like growing a garden, bottling food, having sufficient insurance, staying out of debt, having sufficent savings, having food storage, living a healthy life style, etc.

There are disruptor events such as Hurricane Katrina or a drought or an epidemic or even a personal health crisis that interrupt people's ability to generate income. Many non-profit organizations focus on relieving the suffering from these disruptor events. These NGOs perform a critical service in helping masses get back to a place where many of them can begin to take care of themselves once the crisis has passed and they have been assisted in getting back on their feet. Many of those suffering from Hurricane Katrina, given the opportunity, and with the proper outside assistance, will be able to, at some time, begin to sustain themselves and their family and begin to rebuild again.

Organizations such as Unitus, Accion, Finca, and Grameen work on those who are trapped in a situation, where they are denied, for some reason, the opportunity to be self-sufficient. They have the desire and the will, but because of lack of access to capital, they are unable to generate enough income in the economy that they live in to properly support themselves and their family. This is a more long-term approach, not necessarily focused on a current disaster or crisis. The hope and belief is, that if more people can move away from the poverty line, that when a disruptor event happens, that they will be prepared enough to survive the event and not find themselves unable to rebound.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

The Suffering from Katrina

I have been moved by the trials and suffering of those who faced the catastrophe of Katrina this last week. It is heartbreaking to see people without food and water, and the impact that this has on the elderly, the sick, and the very young. Without adequate support infrastructure and resources, the weak become the most vunerable. It is heartwarming to see the response from around the country of people, cities, and states opening up to help those who are suffering.

We are aware of the suffering in part because of the images and stories we learn about from the media. There seems to be a natural response among many when they hear these stories, that they are eager to help, either through a donation or some form of assistance.

We saw terrible suffering and misery from a week without adequate food and water. Can you imagine what the suffering and misery must be when these conditions are encountered on a long term basis? I have noticed that the media and people have compared the tradegy in the South to Third-World conditions. We have been moved to help, asking, how can these conditions be allowed to exist here in the United States?

I wonder how we, as members of this human family, allow misery and suffering like we have seen this past week, occur on a daily basis in different parts of the world. For these people, there is no Coast Guard ready to pluck them from their suffering, no National Guard arriving like the calvary, and busing them to a more humane environment.

Mohammad Yunus emphatically states that poverty can be eliminated in our lifetime, if there was only the global will to eradicate it. We can plug the levies that allow the flood of misery and suffering in. We can rescue our fellow man from their dire straits of overwhelming poverty. There are people who are willing to help rescue themselves if they were given the means to do so. If there were enough people committing to do whatever we can, we can end this global suffering.