Two great organizations in Montero, Bolivia
16.08.2010 - 16.08.2010 27 °C
By popular request, more on what I am actually DOING down here in Bolivia.
Well, I volunteer with CISNE, a small organization that gives $300 loans to women to start businesses after a basic course on business skills. It began when Terry Gifford of Sedro-Wolley and the Sanchez family started giving loans to friends of their who wanted some help getting a business started, and grew by word of mouth from there. I met Terry at WWU's International Opportunities Fair and immediately said I would go to Bolivia. The Sanchez' son Papacho is a lawyer here, and he and his father have made CISNE an official organization with the government, and to begin to apply for grants from large donors and foundations, like the Gates Foundation, we need to prove we handle loans well, and have a careful plan for the money. So, I am writing a loan manual with rules and expectations, vision, missions and goals of CISNE, what help and support CISNE provides, where to get extra help, and a contract for the women. Also, I am writing the organization's "campaign plan," an English and a Spanish version, with a fundraising plan, outreach plan, roles and responsibilities of the staff and volunteers, and so on.
One of the most popular and effective ways of administering small loans (read more on Wikipedia if you're dying for more info) is called "solidarity lending" where a group of 5 women are given loans as a group, and the group is responsible for paying them back. Not only does this build a sense of teamwork and provides support for the women, a little healthy peer pressure keeps payments current and friends can help each other out when money is short. CISNE is moving towards this system of loan management, and this is another part of my project, working with the Sanchez family and all available research to make sure we are optimizing all the parameters of the loans.
Check out our website! http://www.swanforhumanity.org/BoliviaBound.html A new fancy one is almost ready too.
We are in a very tight place right now as an organization, so if you can donate anything at all, please use the link online and give what you can. I can tell you the money is well spent. Forward this to any friends who may be interested!
Another great organization working in Montero right now is called Etta Projects: http://ettaprojects.org/.
Etta was a 16-year-old Rotary Exchange student to Montero who died in a tragic bus accident 3 months into her stay. In her memory, her mother started this organization, and they work with rural communities on sanitation, health and water quality, as well as children's nutrition programs in Montero. Because of this, I think CISNE and Etta Projects will be able to collaborate to meet some needs here in Bolivia!
Here are the websites for 2 other microcredit and village bank organizations that work in or near Montero! All are worth looking at, and these two are much older and larger than CISNE: