I remember a phone call with Tiger Dawson of Edify on a snowy day in early January of 2011. I had just accepted a fellowship with HOPE International and was preparing to spend a year in the Dominican Republic with them working out of Santo Domingo. I was incredibly excited to embark on my journey and talking with Tiger just amplified my excitement even more.
Edify had started programs in Ghana and the Dominican Republic at the time and were just about to start working with Esperanza.org (A partner of HOPE International). Edify at that time had no staff on the ground and Tiger told me he’d be grateful for any assistance I could provide when I made it to the Dominican Republic.
I wrote down a bunch of notes about number of schools, locations of schools, goals of the program and the future plan for the program. (I have that initial paper kept somewhere in my archives.) To me, it was interesting that they were doing microlending to small, low-cost Christian schools. I knew about microfinance, but questioned how that process worked for private Christian schools. The only Christian schools I knew where I grew up were small, and I didn’t have any friends there. One was weird, and the other one fielded an excellent soccer team year after year. But my intrigue was unfettered and I continued on.
I got to meet Tiger for the first time in February of 2011 and he impressed me with his business acumen and his dedication for helping children all over the world know the hope of Christ and receive a markedly better education. He asked if I wanted to visit a school, actually the first school to receive a loan from Esperanza, and I jumped at the opportunity. Check out this video below:
Aleyda soon became a friend of mine and over the next two years I did a lot of work for Edify. I completely loved the model – combining small business loans with business and teacher training. I got to see the first-hand the success of the program from the first school to the 43rd school upon my exit in October of 2012.
I continued to spend time with Edify and discussed the possibility of working with them over the next year – 2013. My plan was to do a feasibility study in four selected countries: Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras and Peru, focusing on these goals:
1. Meet and get to know local Microfinance Organizations and assess their ability to do commercial size loans to private schools.
2. Visit at least 20-25 small, Christian private schools in each country to see if they fit the profile for receiving a small-medium sized loan from a microlending institution.
3. Complete a report for each country using macro and micro data for each country based on sources from the World Bank, CIA Factbook, USAID, and other local and international sources.
4. Do a final feasibility presentation to Edify leadership based on the six months of travel to four countries.
Fast-forward to today and I accepted the position to be the Program Manager here in Peru to start the program for thousands of Peruvian children who want to get a better education. I believe in this model now more than ever and I’m incredibly excited to see what God has planned for Lima and the surrounding provinces.
To learn more about Edify, check out their web site here: