Invest in women & communities benefit. Let's help low-income, women entrepreneurs build better futures—Give the Gift of Empowerment & Hope.

As many of you know, I've been working in microfinance for 8 years, and I love it! I've launched this fundraiser to support The MicroDreams Foundation, the organization for which I work. Why? Because I’ve met so many amazing, hard-working and inspiring women in developing countries around the world, and they deserve economic opportunity to improve their lives and the lives of their families. (Below is the story of Makalita Mataele from Tonga. Also, check out the NBC Nightly News video—see Brian Williams thumbnail.)

Investing in one woman benefits her entire household. Unlocking the potential of women, therefore, can improve the lives of an entire community or village. We have seen that when women are able to improve their incomes, they invest in the health, nutrition and education of their children and make necessary home improvements.

My goal is to raise $5,200 (or more!) by December 31st. Please join me!

At MicroDreams, our partner organizations offer microloans to women to start or grow income-generating businesses. With our $5,200, we can fund new loans for 13 women initially—impacting ~78 people. As the women repay their loans throughout the year, our $5,200 will be lent out again–the funds keep on working as new loans are disbursed. The multiplier effect means that in 2013 alone, we will actually fund 26 loans, impacting ~156 people.

Why $5,200? It’s a “gift” for 2013. **$400 is the average amount of a disbursed loan X ’13 (as in 2013) = $5,200.**

In addition to loans, thousands of women receive other critical services, including:

* savings accounts: providing a safe place to save hard-earned money;
* insurance: to help protect assets; and,
* financial literacy training.

Makalita Mataele – Sowing Seeds, Reaping Benefits: Microfinance Makes Big Impact in Tonga.

Makalita has been the main bread-winner for her family since her husband left her and her 5 children 24 years ago. She’s a relatively quiet woman with a dogged determination to succeed. Her motivation? Providing for her children and grandchildren as well as her elderly brother.

Makalita is an astute businesswoman. She joined SPBD, MicroDreams' partner in Tonga, and received her first loan of TOP 1,000 (US$400) to purchase supplies to make tapa (cloth) and to weave baskets. Since weaving and tapa making are time-consuming processes, Makalita diversified her business to ensure a steady stream of income – she used part of her loan to invest in vegetable farming. Unlike the tapa and weaved handicrafts, she could sell her vegetables daily. She realized that vegetables were more profitable and invested her subsequent loans in her vegetable farming – expanding her product line and volume. Today Makalita’s main source of income is her vegetable farm. She receives daily orders from her customers, which include restaurants.

As a result of her increased income, Makalita was able to pay for her children’s and grandchildren’s education. She also invested in home improvement. With profits from her business, she saved for a down payment on a truck to transport her produce. Makalita employs family members in her business and hires seasonal workers to help harvest and transport her produce. In addition to accessing credit from SPBD, Makalita also saves her hard-earned income with SPBD and benefits from the insurance product.

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