Category Archives: Organizations

Retracing my First Steps with

Sometimes it takes a long way to get where you intended on going. Today, I arrived to work in the San Pedro de Macoris office. It’s about an hour from Santo Domingo, but the journey took a lot longer for me to get here. San Pedro is where Microfinance began for this organization. It was the first office of Esperanza and it’s still the biggest. The city is baseball crazy (like most in the DR) and for that, I wore my green polo to pretend like I fit into the fan base. (Still, no one has picked up this “coincidence” nor commented on my cultural assimilation skills.)

As I made my rounds getting to know the office, I sat down next to Norberto, the person in charge of the Kiva program for Esperanza. He’s been with Esperanza for quite some time and that’s probably why they let him run such an important program. is a web site that collects donations for microfinance programs world-wide. They have raised over $100+ million for 300,000+ entrepreneurs in 50+ countries and they’ve helped to fund a significant portion for Esperanza to lend out to their clients. is where I found out about Microfinance. It was actually from a blog post from Seth Godin back in 2006, and from that link I signed up to make my first loan with Kiva. That loan went to Elodia Ruiz Gonzalez in Monterrey, Mexico. My initial four loans have since been recycled 10 times as the amounts have been paid back so my loan count is up to about 40. It’s amazing to see the investment of time in a project.

Elodia Ruiz Gonzalez in Monterrey, MexicoSo as I sit here in the first office of Esperanza, and Norberto and I are talking about how the program works, I can’t help but think that this moment, strangely, has been almost 5 years in the making. It was one of things that when I first heard about I thought to myself, “Wow, it’d be cool to travel to see what this is really like.”

Of course, I don’t think I could have predicted my journey of the past five years in Richmond, the 10 months away from an actual stable and routine living environment, nor the travel through five different Spanish speaking countries, countless flights, plenty of strange nights in hostels, buses, taxis, motorcycles, boats, walking miles on foot, not to mention the paperwork and logistics it took to be a volunteer to work here.

Sometimes people ask, “If you really knew what it took to get there, would you still want to start out on the journey?”

Maybe it’s a good thing that we don’t know that full journey, or all the steps it takes to get there, because we might not actually make the first step.

When it comes down to it, sometimes to get to where you intended on going, you can just catch a bus in Parque Enriquillo, ride for an hour, and when the bus stops, walk two blocks to the office.

(Join the DR and Haiti Lending Team!)

Economic Development & The PovertyCure

An associate of mine at HOPE International forwarded me this video from PovertyCure. It is incredibly informative and well-made and I think it will help you better understand the multifaceted problem of poverty and the best ways to respond to a world in need.

“Poverty Cure is an international network of organizations and individuals seeking to ground our common battle against global poverty in a proper understanding of the human person and society, and to encourage solutions that foster opportunity and unleash the entrepreneurial spirit that already fills the developing world.

We know there is no single solution to poverty, and good people will disagree about methods, but we have joined together to rethink poverty, to move beyond top-down plans, and to promote entrepreneurial solutions to poverty informed by sound economics, local knowledge, the lessons of history and, most important, the Judeo-Christian tradition.

Christ calls us to solidarity with the poor, but this means more than assistance. It means seeing the poor not as objects or experiments, but as partners and brothers and sisters, as fellow creatures made in the image of God with the capacity to solve problems and create new wealth for themselves and their families. At a practical level, it means integrating them into our networks of exchange and productivity.

We encourage you to take a look at our website, sign our statement of principles, get involved, and spread the word.”

PovertyCure web site