5 Things That Make Me Proud

This time of year is a good time for reflection and appreciation so this morning I sat down and wrote out five things about Spirit in Action that make me proud.

Elephants cross the Samburu River in Kenya

Elephants follow each other's path across the Samburu River in Kenya.

  1. We build relationships that are multi-sided and on-going. I learn from SIA partners and they learn from me. We enrich each other’s lives.
  2. We are flexible. SIA responds to the needs and ideas of our partners, rather than dictate the exact approach to address their challenges.
  3. We focus on positive change. You won’t see humiliating photos of children with flies in their eyes on the SIA website. We honor the dignity and joy of our dedicated partners.
  4. We start small. Our small grants give a family or community necessary assistance to make the first step towards their vision for change, without making them dependent on our support.
  5. We share the gift. A SIA grant doesn’t have to be paid back, it has to be passed along to another community member in need. Grant receivers are also gift givers!

May peace be yours in the New Year! We are so grateful for your encouragement and support of SIA worldwide. You can add what makes you proud of SIA in the comment box below. I’d love to hear from all of you!

Gaudenziah and Tanya at Solar Cookers

Tanya visits Gaudenziah at her family's thriving Solar Cookers business in Eldoret, Kenya.

Quote of the Day: Sylvester Nkoma

Sylvester Nkoma with his cows in Malawi

Boyd and I met Slyvester Nkoma in Malawi this summer. He shared his testimony with us while we were there and we did get to try the milk fresh from his dairy cow!

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Be an Angel Investor

Saul (Malawi) with his crop of green maize.

Saul (Malawi) was able to expand his crop of green maize with a SIA grant.

Have you heard about “angel investors”? In the business world, Angel Investors are wealthy, entrepreneurial-minded individuals who provide capital to start-up companies.

Now, imagine a world where Angel Investors didn’t just back Silicon Valley tech start-ups. Actually, aren’t SIA donors already Angel Investors for small business entrepreneurs in Africa?

“No successful company in the U.S. started with loans,” said Alan Patricof in his article about microfinance in developing countries, “Steve Jobs, Michael Dell, and Mark Zuckerberg did not borrow from their local banks to start Apple, Dell, and Facebook. They got angel investors.”

Grants, Not Loans

With Spirit in Action we all have the opportunity to be Angel Investors. Think about it, if I have just $150 I can give it to a family in Africa to start a business. I don’t need that $150 back. It’s only $150 and it can make a world of difference! Corporate Angel Investors give to projects that inspire and excite them, projects that give them hope for something better in this world that their precious money can go to help. What’s just money for me, is a tool for empowering our partners.

You may have heard about other micro-loan organizations, like Kiva. However, these traditional micro-finance institutions take people down the path of dependence with high-interest loans and by making them prey to in-country loan sharks. I was shocked to hear stories of interest rates as high as 48% for a two-week micro-loan in Malawi! How can that possibly create success?

Businesses started with SIA Small Business Fund (SBF) grants are more likely to succeed and thrive than those started with a high-interest micro-finance loan.

Justina Phiri (Malawi) sells beans and popcorn. She can now afford to pay for one child to go to high school and one to university.

Justina Phiri (Malawi) sells beans and popcorn. She can now afford to pay for one child to go to high school and one to university!

Our SBF grants, give people a windfall to start their business without debt, to start off in the black. This means that their first $150 in profit goes to pay for school or health care, rather than to pay back a comparatively wealthy investor. We realize that $150 can have a much bigger impact when it’s given graciously to an entrepreneur, rather than restricted through a loan process.

Because Angel Investors assume a high level of risk, they are also betting on a high return on investment. At SIA, we bet on the entrepreneur’s success, rather than depend on their interest to earn our money.

Invest Early

A Minnesota angel investor group found it is best to fund a project early on, when there is still a chance to lead and plan with the group for a successful business. In addition to the micro-grant, Spirit in Action also provides business training in the early stages of the business. Our  local coordinators participate in the development of the business plan by guiding initial group discussions and helping them estimate costs and income. This direct, early (and then on-going) support is crucial for the group’s success.

Be an Angel Investor

Juliet Namusobya (Uganda) received a SIA grant in 2007 and is still in business today!

Juliet Namusobya (Uganda) received a SIA grant in 2007 and is still in business today!

Spirit in Action also puts the “angel” in Angel Investor. We are an organization founded on compassion for others and the world. We encourage SBF groups to pray together for their needs and for the needs of their customers and communities.

This Christmas, I’m choosing to be an Angel Investor to a new shop keeper in Kenya, a new tomato farmer in Malawi, or a new mat-weaver in Uganda. Boyd and I give to Spirit in Action because we believe that it’s worth at least the $150 “investment” to see these businesses started, these leaders trained, and these families changed forever.

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You can also be an Angel Investor, through a tax-deductible donation to SIA.

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Five Reasons to Give to SIA this Christmas

Thank you card from group in Malawi.Looking for the perfect, meaningful gift this Christmas? I give you some reasons to consider donating to Spirit in Action this season.

1. Give a meaningful gift! In his annual Gifts that Say You Care article, New York Times columnist Nicolas Kristof said, “Give Grandma a bit of credit! These holidays, would she rather receive a silly reindeer sweater or help a schoolchild acquire glasses to see the blackboard clearly for the first time?” This Christmas, instead of another lotion set, how about honoring your loved ones (especially those with everything they already need) with a gift to Spirit in Action to help someone like Linly Nkhata start a business and buy a cow? Watch a video of Linly sharing her success story.

2. A little goes a long way! The enormous impact of our Small Business Fund, which gives a $150 grant and business training to entrepreneurs in Africa, is another reason to give to SIA. That $150 can start a business is one heck of a deal, as we would say here in Minnesota! Consider, this amount that isn’t enough to even cover rent for one month in the US is enough to get a family business off the ground in DR Congo. Read about SIA’s success in DR Congo.

3. Join your friends! 88 individuals, groups, and foundations have already contributed to make Spirit in Action’s work happen this year! These people are passionate about our work. One of our donors wrote to me: “Being led to continue what Del started in my prayer life years ago has been fulfilled by your faithfulness! I’ve enclosed a check to join the Celebration of being at one with the rest the joy-filled followers…Happy fifteenth birthday!

Winkly with pigs 4. You gift will be shared! You gift to the Small Business Fund doesn’t just help the family who receives a grant. Each new business group is called to share compassionately with another family in need in their community. Through our Sharing the Gift program Winkly Mahowe (Malawi, pictured right) received the gift a pig from a neighbor. Since then he has been able to build his family a new home, feed his widowed mother, and give a piglet to another family! This way, the blessings of God are spread throughout the whole community.

5. Build Relationships! Christmas is all about visiting friends and family and sharing joy together. Spirit in Action is also all about relationships. Del Anderson started SIA because he was drawn to help people in developing countries and encourage them through sending letters, seeds, self-help information, and also praying with them. Fifteen years later, relationships remain central to our work. Once we build these connections with our international partners and coordinators we are drawn through compassion to help them develop sustainable livelihoods, send children to school, and eat better food.

New members receive loans from MAVISALOThis season is about giving and the joy of sharing! We hope you will join Spirit in Action in giving the gift of empowerment this Christmas. Remember, just $150 is enough for a family to start a new business and any amount helps us continue our compassionate service to those who need it most.

You can make a tax-deductible contribution online here or send a check to the address below. And don’t forget to designate your donation to honor or remember someone special!

Spirit in Action
PO Box 3384
Santa Cruz CA 95063
Donate Now

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