What I'm learning about leadership

— From our Executive Director — 

Until a couple of years ago, if you mentioned the topic of Leadership to me, it's likely my eyes would’ve glazed over. Who’s got time for such lofty thoughts while you’re elbow-deep in the real world of packing lunchboxes, finding deals on soccer cleats, and minding everyone’s screen time?

Well, things have changed. I’ve changed. I’ve learned Leadership isn’t so lofty. Leadership is as real as the people you’re standing next to, and as down to earth as the tools in your hands. Leadership is influence, and everyone has influence.

TOLI has taught me much of this. Why does TOLI invest in people who seem to have nothing? Because even if you have ‘nothing’ you still have influence. The words you say, the actions you take, the choices you make, the help you share, all impact the world around you. If you are a person, you have influence. That means no one has ‘nothing.’

So while charities see people to be helped, TOLI sees leaders to be built.

Clients who start a small business with a microloan, take business training, and engage in intentional Christian discipleship through TOLI are influencing their communities in ways that will long outlive our program. They are becoming leaders. And that changes everything. For good.

And it’s my honor to introduce you to three of them. These are three women who've taught me more about leadership than any podcast, book, or conference.


BRENDA was the first TOLI client in Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua. Once a struggling single mom, Brenda now runs a thriving small business. At a recent training, Brenda spoke to a room of 40, including TOLI clients, church leaders from around Nicaragua, and an American team from TOLI. “I want to tell everyone: Let’s learn to give back that little part of all that God gives us,” she said. Brenda is a motivator among the TOLI client community as she inspires, challenges, and brings people together. Brenda is a leader.


ANN is a grandmother in rural Kenya, who took a TOLI microloan to build her dairy cow business. A loyal member of a community savings group organized by our partner ministry, Comet House, we’ve seen Ann grasp the power of the TOLI program to transform lives. Because of Ann’s hard work and strategic vision, her daughter is now starting college — something Ann says would never have happened before she entered the program. Ann has paid off her loan, but is not done with TOLI. This month, she was selected to join the local TOLI Committee, where she will help recruit and train new clients and savings groups. Ann is a leader.


SOHER is a mother of two boys living in Garbage Village, a desperately poor area of Cairo, Egypt. Soher took a microloan years ago to buy a machine that recycles plastics and earns her steady income. Soher’s persistence and positivity has inspired many US TOLI Teams that have visited her over the years. And starting this month, she begins working for TOLI as an assistant to our Social Worker in her community, providing spiritual care and counseling of female clients in the area. Soher is a leader.

Brenda, Ann, and Soher are just three, but there are many more leaders being developed right now because of TOLI and our partner ministries. THANK YOU for investing in them by supporting our work. Through them, you are changing more lives than you'll ever know.

With gratitude and joy,


Abigail McConnell
Executive Director

Q&A with a TOLI Traveler

Randy Scott: "TOLI is the 'real deal.'"

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Sheer curiosity inspired Randy Scott to travel to Nicaragua to see TOLI in action last month. Scott, a longtime nonprofit consultant, successful executive, and most recently, a TOLI supporter, was blown away by the simple effectiveness of the TOLI model. “TOLI is the ‘real deal,'" he says. "It works, and lives are being changed. A mere $300 loan can really change lives and people are coming to Christ because of TOLI’s engagement.”

His biggest takeaway from the trip? “There is no single solution to solving world poverty,” he says. “As Jesus said, the poor will always be with us. It is easy to become overwhelmed by world poverty and do nothing. I think I now see that the ultimate solution is bringing the people to a believing faith in Jesus Christ so that they can enjoy spending eternity with Him where there is no pain, hunger, and worry. In the meantime, if each believer can engage with organizations like TOLI that provide the opportunity to build relationships with those in need so that we can then share Jesus with them, we can and will make a difference.”

Inspired? Take the next step.

> Come to our next #TOLITuesday Prayer Gathering on September 10 from 12-1pm at the TOLI office, 5785 N.Union Blvd, Colorado Springs, CO 80918.

Be like Randy. Travel with us! Check out our trips coming in 2020. 

Help TOLI change lives by giving today. A simple $300 microloan can truly transform a life — and a family — forever.  

And, finally, give us a follow…

Growing both deep and wide

We've just returned from Kenya and Egypt, where TOLI isn't just growing — it's multiplying

October was a banner month. After more than three weeks of travel to Africa and the Middle East to train leaders, launch new sites, collaborate with field staff, and expand programs, TOLI leaders are giving thanks — and taking a deep breath. Here are just a few highlights...

Margaret has applied for a microloan in Mai-a-ihii. She'd like to expand her small vegetable stand to a larger, permanent grocery kiosk.

Margaret has applied for a microloan in Mai-a-ihii. She'd like to expand her small vegetable stand to a larger, permanent grocery kiosk.

KENYA: TOLI's first site in Sub-Saharan Africa

— A team of 10 visited two regions in Kenya to evaluate new partnerships.
— We officially launched in Mai-a-Ihii, outside of Nairobi, partnering with Comet House Ministries to offer poor women microloans. We expect a second partner site, in rural central Kenya, to launch by March. (For pictures and videos, check out our Facebook updates)
— We're excited to be working with savings groups to strengthen our program here. These are community-based covenant groups of poor individuals who pool their assets to provide basic financial services to each other. They also build accountability, discipline, and a platform for Christian discipleship that will add a powerful dynamic to TOLI's loan program.
— We ran several workshops with potential clients focusing on goal setting; overcoming obstacles, and identifying how we're designed to work together in the body of Christ.
— We look forward to returning in March to run a week-long entrepreneurship course for clients, leaders and community members.
HUGE thank you to the Kenya Launch Team, whose generous support kickstarted this program.

"We've tried businesses before, but without a plan we learned you cannot succeed. We look forward to you coming back in March for the five-day course."

— Nancy, microloan candidate and class participant, Mai-a-Ihii, Kenya

TOLI leaders from around the world met in Cairo for a week of training, collaboration and worship. Photo by Jessica Birkelo/Alternativ

TOLI leaders from around the world met in Cairo for a week of training, collaboration and worship. Photo by Jessica Birkelo/Alternativ

EGYPT: New growth in our oldest program

— Five leaders continued from Kenya on to Egypt to provide a week-long small business training course and make field visits.
58 people participated in the training, including leaders from Egypt, Lebanon, India, Nicaragua and the US.
— For the first time, we assembled field staff from multiple countries in one place to collaborate, learn and worship together.
— A whopping 800 microloan applicants are hoping for a chance at a TOLI loan in Garbage Village, a poor area of Cairo built entirely on recycling the city's garbage.
7-8 new TOLI sites are being planted throughout Cairo, thanks to a strategic partnership with Heliopolis Evangelical Church.
— El Kom el Akhdar, TOLI's first village site, reports meeting all of its yearly goals — reaching youth at risk of emigrating out of the village, finding employment for individuals with special needs, and improving the development of the village as a whole. El Khom is now planting the TOLI program in three nearby villages.

We visited Soaad, a single mom of 5 kids, who built small shop with a TOLI loan in Nazlet Hanna, Egypt. Her business is successful and her kids are thriving.

We visited Soaad, a single mom of 5 kids, who built small shop with a TOLI loan in Nazlet Hanna, Egypt. Her business is successful and her kids are thriving.

We learned that more than 800 people have applied for a TOLI loan in Garbage Village alone. Would you sponsor just one?

A $300 donation provides one new loan — and the start of a brand new life.  Help TOLI bring restoration and the good news of Jesus Christ to more around the world. Make your quick, secure online donation here: