Saturday, February 28, 2009

Strategic Times in South Africa

Todd: PEER Servants’ biggest initiative in 2009 is called our “Strategic Training Initiative” (STI). We are working closely with our MP in the Philippines, The Center for Community Transformation, to tell their story and incorporate appropriate training of how they grew to become one of the largest indigenous, autonomous Christian MFIs in the world. Phase 1 of STI was for a team of three CCT staff to visit Aloga Financial Services, PEER Servants’ South African MP, and Good Seed Enterprise Development, PEER Servants’ Nigerian MP, in February 2009. I joined PEER Servants volunteers Joseph Tucker Edmonds (STI Team Leader), Jesse Ratichek, and Patrice Gopo in South Africa; Jesse continued on to Nigeria with the CCT team. The weeks in South Africa and Nigeria were used by God to inspire both MFIs to all they could become in extending God’s Kingdom and to better understand some of the next steps they need to take to become high impact organizations like CCT.

While in South Africa, Aloga Financial Services celebrated their most recent Lydia Award winner, Lilly Storom (next to me). Lilly, an Aloga client, owns and manages an amazing daycare in Mamelodi that provides almost 90 3-6 year olds with a great education. As the children hear that Jesus loves them, their lives and those of their family members are being transformed. Aloga has had many successful clients — joining Lilly at her celebration were 2004 Lydia Award winner Flydah Mdhluli (middle in picture), and 2007 Lydia Award winner, Claudie Mashiane (to the right). Matsha Makena (far right), Aloga Managing Director, was praised by all three award recipients for the level of service his staff and he offer to them. (The Lydia Award is given annually by PEER Servants to recognize the top 2-3 of the thousands of entrepreneurs who receive loans from PEER Servants’ MPs. It is named after Lydia, the entrepreneur selling purple cloth/dye in Acts 16, who supported St. Paul and his missionary companions as they traveled through the area.)

It wasn’t all work and no play while in South Africa (although I am known to keep a pretty tight and demanding schedule for PEER Servants volunteers on these trips!). The entire team took a day retreat to visit the Pilanesberg Game Reserve and saw God’s amazing creatures — a charging bull elephant, a family of rhinos, a pride of twelve playful lions, and this beautiful herd of more than a dozen giraffes. We had been praying that since this may be the only time our brother and sisters from the Philippines would be able to see African game in person, that God would lead the animals to show up. As is so often the case, God answered our prayers in ways that exceeded what we could think or imagine!, God answered our prayers in ways that exceeded what we could think or imagine!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Closer to Launch in Zambia

Todd: We are closer to launch of CEMFIN, an indigenous, autonomous Zambian MFI and PEER Servants’ newest microfinance partner. The CEMFIN board and management met with PEER Servants’ Team Zambia February 7-13, 2009 for a week of training, further preparing the MFI submission for the Bank of Zambia, and planning the remaining steps to the first loans being made later in 2009.

My role in this trip was twofold — helping CEMFIN progress on their path to launch, but also “training the trainers” as the four PEER Servants volunteers (Jim Martin, Ken Lloyd, Dick Wilson, and Bob Roth) who are part of “Team Zambia” gain expertise in providing microfinance training. Jim , Ken, Dick, and Bob are part of a larger group of Charlotte, NC-based Christ followers who have formed a very strong PEER Servants team to serve and support CEMFIN.