Much of the world faces an ongoing jobs crisis, with significant unemployment and underemployment limiting productive capacity and contributing to elevated national poverty levels. Many who wish to work are denied the opportunity, instead confronting the stress and shame of being unable to provide for their families.
At HOPE, we believe that work is God’s primary plan for provision. We’ve found that most who live in poverty are eager to generate income and employ their God-given skills to add value to their communities. Unemployment robs individuals of that opportunity, but Christ-centered microenterprise development restores it by helping men and women create jobs for themselves and others in their community. HOPE International’s network provides a variety of services and resources across 17 countries to address the pervasive employment gap faced by the world’s poor.
Through Savings and Credit Associations (SCA), rural community members are able to meet even the most basic needs they are struggling to meet otherwise, like sending children to school or buying medical insurance. But first and most fundamentally, savings provide a safety net. Without this sum of money to fall back on, an illness, emergency, or temporary drop in income can quickly become a crisis. By partnering with local churches, HOPE empowers men and women to take steps toward achieving their dreams.
At HOPE, our efforts to love and serve the poor are rooted in our allegiance to our Lord and Savior and our desire to see His kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. Believing that true transformation can only come from a relationship with Jesus Christ, HOPE engages in culturally appropriate evangelism and discipleship in each of the countries in which we work. HOPE is committed to hiring Christian staff and equipping them to be disciple makers in their communities, and we seek to partner with local churches in each of our areas of operation to provide clients with ongoing discipleship and support.
While HOPE’s clients are intelligent and resourceful, many have had limited opportunities for formal financial or business education. Biblically based business training helps clients understand the value of saving and record-keeping, giving to church and community, and running an ethical business. With the support of their fellow group members, SCA clients learn to make informed, prayerful decisions on how to best collect and use their savings. Other topics of training include personal finances, preventive health, and business management.
In church-based Savings and Credit Associations, groups of men and women meet regularly–at least once a month, but often more frequently–and pool together their resources to purchase assets, make loans to one another, and support each other in the endeavor. Some groups choose to accumulate their funds while others distribute it rotationally. Recognizing that local communities know their community members and customs best, our model is based on self-governed SCAs that set their own bylaws, admit members as they choose and determine their own interest rates.
With zero-capital injection from HOPE, SCA members lend to each other from their savings to purchase assets, pay fees and even launch businesses. In addition to supporting each others’ endeavors through loans, many groups have chosen to rotationally distribute their savings in the form of a previously agreed-upon asset, such as a small animal for each member or medical insurance for each family. Some groups take it one step further in accumulating a separate social fund for very low or no interest loans.