Microloans

Creativity rules.

You might think rural Kenya is an unlikely place for innovation. Think again. 

We want to introduce you to a few entrepreneurs we met last month. Their creativity and willingness to think "outside the box" is transforming their lives and their communities. Each of these clients took a TOLI loan of less than $300. That, paired with their resourcefulness, their courageous thinking, and the encouragement of a TOLI social worker, has meant a brand new start.

THANK YOU for helping these amazing entrepreneurs find their purpose and use their God-given talents. 

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REGINA, Tea Sales. Regina's business idea is so simple, but so clever. With just a plastic bag and a candle, Regina has created a tea packaging business that's providing steady income and security for her and her children. She buys high-grade tea in bulk (we tasted it — it's delicious!) and then repackages it into smaller portions. She seals the individual plastic bags with a candle flame so the tea stays fresh, then sells the small portions to clients in her area, including schools and churches. (Click the video above to see how Regina works!) 

 
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LENA, Veterinary Services and Supplies. Lena has loved animals her whole life. And even though it's rare for women here, she has long dreamed of operating a veterinary supplies business. But this spring, with the help of business training and a $300 loan through TOLI, she launched a veterinary services and supplies shop. Her business provides medicine, supplements and vet services for area livestock farmers.  

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LLOYD, Banana Sales. Banana farming is nothing new. But Lloyd's business model is innovative, connecting local small-scale farmers with the larger banana market in Nairobi. Lloyd (shown above on the right) scouts for banana crops from independent subsistence farmers in remote areas, collects them himself, then transports them in bulk to the city every week, where he sells at a premium. Not only has his income sharply increased, his community has benefitted from the market expansion. 

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LUCY, Butcher. When Lucy's husband, a life-long butcher, died a year and a half ago, she was left without an income. Then this spring, her community group introduced her to the TOLI program. Lucy courageously decided to take a microloan and continue her husband's business. Last month, Lucy reopened the butchery, and she now provides fresh meat as well as some of her own special recipes to her community. "Being a butcher is unusual for women here," she told us. "But business is good, and is picking up." 


“ Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you.”

— 1 Kings 3:12


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When Annie met Rose (top picture), a TOLI client with a dress-making business, she decided she wanted to buy a dress of her own. Rose measured Annie, helped her choose fabrics, and custom-made the dress by the very next day. Annie proudly wore it to worship that Sunday (above)!

When Annie met Rose (top picture), a TOLI client with a dress-making business, she decided she wanted to buy a dress of her own. Rose measured Annie, helped her choose fabrics, and custom-made the dress by the very next day. Annie proudly wore it to worship that Sunday (above)!

Q&A with a TOLI Traveler

Almost 30 years ago, Annie Moore’s father began a ministry serving abandoned boys in the slums of Nairobi. Years later, it was his passion and legacy that sparked Annie's desire to go on a TOLI trip to Kenya. As a former social worker herself, Annie was intrigued by the “transformative shift” microloans can play in breaking the cycle of poverty. We asked her to share a few thoughts about this life-changing journey to Kenya with TOLI last month.

TOLI: Describe an encounter with a TOLI client that impacted you deeply: 

ANNIE: We met a woman whose business involved traveling from Kenya to Uganda to buy fabrics and selling them for a profit to dressmakers and other people through word of mouth. She seemed to be doing quite well and had plans of expanding her business, but what really struck me about her is the daughter she "adopted" (whom she saw had no parents) who now lives with her. The daughter is also taking a microloan to make and sell soaps. This daughter sends some of her money back to a brother suffering from some ailment for medication. Seeing generosity giving way to generosity was inspiring.

TOLI: How did you see God at work through TOLI? 

ANNIE: God was at work in the TOLI social workers as they were facilitating groups, working alongside of individuals, giving their very lives away with loads of joy and passion in the work they were doing. Observers, Teachers, Encouragers, Listeners, Supporters, Advisors, Travelers, God is using so many facets of these social workers!

TOLI: What would you like others to know about TOLI? 

ANNIE: The TOLI staff does an exquisite job of carrying out the business of getting microloans to people and pursuing growth, while simultaneously reassuring individuals that TOLI exists not primarily for the repayment of money, but most importantly, for the worth and value God sees in each and every person.


Inspired? Jump in. 

> Be like Annie. Travel with us! Check out our trips coming in 2020. 
> Come to our next #TOLITuesday Prayer Gathering on July 9 from 12-1pm at the TOLI office, 5785 N.Union Blvd, Colorado Springs, CO 80918.

> Help more entrepreneurs find their purpose, gifts, and ability to care for the families and communities by giving today. A simple $300 microloan can truly transform a life — and a family — forever.  

Watch Noshy (and God) at work


from our Executive Director


Noshy is a rug maker. 

His workroom feels like an artist's studio: bleached stone walls, lofty timber ceiling, art hanging up high. The narrow space is ringed with sacks of wool, coils of yarn, and scraps of paper designs. And at the far end is a wooden loom — the place where Noshy has woven together a life that's seen both plenty and want.

I visited Noshy on a breezy day in September, along with a few American volunteers and some local leaders from the village. We stepped inside through the shade of the date palms that edge this little village in Upper Egypt.

No sooner did Noshy welcome us in than he disappeared again through a side door.

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We had come to learn about his livelihood, built with help of a few TOLI microloans. Noshy's village was a hard place to make a living, especially with four growing boys to raise. But Noshy had a craft, and after he took his first TOLI microloan of just $200 to invest in wool and equipment, he was able to provide for his family.

Noshy appeared again, now carrying trays piled with peanuts and 10 glasses of orange soda for us. We politely declined — he insisted.

We sat on benches cracking peanuts and listened to Noshy tell us about his rug business, which he's now got down to a science: He buys the wool and ships it to the south part of the country to be spun into yarn and dyed. In all, it takes three months to get the wool, send it away, and wait for it to come back. Then it takes him just two days to weave a rug.

Waiting and weaving. Weaving and waiting.

Noshy's work depends on both.

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But that's true for all of us, isn't it?

In work, and in life, we wait — for the job offer, the proposal, a pregnancy. For the diagnosis, a cure, some clarity.

And we weave — an education into a career, our skills into a livelihood, our resources into security.

And while some weaving and waiting are ours to do, most of it is God's.

If we pay attention, we see that it's him doing the weaving. Weaving our friendships into community, our gifts into a ministry, our people into his church. He takes the raw materials of our lives, rough and unshaped, and crafts something beautiful and useful and good. 

And he waits. Our gentle and loving God waits patiently for us — waits for us to say yes to him, waits quietly for us to draw near to him, waits confidently for us to open the door he's been knocking on all along (Revelation 3:20).

He knows that in this life we're never a finished product, that we're always becoming something. So God waits, and he weaves, so that we may become ... His.

Because His is who he made us to be.  

When the orange soda was gone and peanuts were eaten, we stood to say goodbye and pray with Noshy. In a circle, we gave thanks to the Lord for this man and his family, for how he was able to educate all four of his now-grown sons. We gave thanks for the work of his hands, the ministry of his gifts, and the community he quietly blesses.

And for those peanuts. We gave thanks for those peanuts.

With gratitude and joy, 

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 — YOU CAN BUY A NOSHY RUG —

Coming to our May 9th Event? You can bid on the rug shown above — as well as other products made by TOLI clients— at our Silent Auction.


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take the next step

> Come to our next #TOLITuesday Prayer Gathering: May 14 from 12-1pm (at TOLI, 5785 N.Union Blvd, Colorado Springs, CO 80918)
> Become a monthly giver. Start here.
> Discover other ways to get involved here.


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Family-sized transformation

This husband and wife once struggled to survive. Now they're providing for their family — and their community.

A few years ago, Nady had a stroke that left him unemployed and unable to provide for his wife and two young sons. His family's future was bleak. 

Then someone at church encouraged him to apply for a TOLI microloan to build an income-earning project. In fact, Nady already had a good idea for a business: Because fresh meat is only available at the local market once a week and nobody owns a freezer, there was a need for frozen meat supply. Nady invested in a deep freezer with a $200 TOLI microloan, and began selling frozen chicken, beef, and lamb seven days a week from his home. His neighbors now had access to meat all week long, and Nady had a new source of income.

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Nady quickly began earning a profit that helped re-stabilize the family, earn steady income, and pay back the loan. But this family was just getting started.

His wife, Mervet, dreamed of creating her own hair salon. After seeing Nady's success, she dove in too, and Mervet took a TOLI loan to buy a salon chair, hair dryers, and a curling iron. She was in business. 

Today, while Nady sells meat out of the back of their house, Mervet cuts and styles hair in the front. Together they are meeting all the needs of their family, paying for school for their two boys, George and Joseph, providing key resources to their small village, and finding ways to give back to their community.  And since they both have paid back their loans, neighbors have had the opportunity to use these revolving loan funds too.

Two weeks ago, we had the honor of meeting with Nady and Mervet in their village of El Kom El-Akhdar, Egypt — one of thousands that TOLI has impacted around the world. We met with scores of clients like them and were so encouraged to see firsthand how God is using TOLI to strengthen households like Nady and Mervet's, which then impact whole communities and help transform entire villages.

In fact, we are daring to dream that TOLI can transform all of Egypt. Will you dream with us?  




Come pray with us.

Maybe you can't travel with us to meet our clients firsthand. But if you're in the Colorado Springs area you can do the next best thing.  Each month we gather staff and volunteers to pray — and we want you to join us. You'll hear stories about what's going on at each site and updates on individual clients and their families. And then together we pray for them, by name. Please join us!

#TOLITuesday Prayer Gathering // 2nd Tuesday of each month
When:
October 9, 12pm-1pm
Where: 5785 N. Union Blvd, Colorado Springs, CO 80918

If you have questions, or would prefer to join us by phone to pray, please email Linda Hood, our TOLI Prayer Coordinator. 


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Travel with TOLI

See firsthand what God is doing through TOLI. Find out more about joining us on a Vision Trip or Medical Mission Trip in 2019: 

The ABCs of hope

In the spirit of back-to-school, and because many of you are just getting to know us, here's a handy primer on some TOLI basics. 

A is for ALLEVIATING POVERTY. We work to truly alleviate poverty—for good—in a way that's dignified, lasting, and sustainable. We break the cycle of dependency and hopelessness that traditional charity often enables.
B is for BUSINESS-BASED SOLUTIONS. Rather than giving handouts, we offer a hand up in the form of microloans and small business training, so poor families can start their own income-earning businesses. 
C is for CHRIST-CENTERED TRANSFORMATION. Poverty isn't just about dollars and cents, it's also about hearts and minds. So we work holistically, investing in the God-given creative capacity of every person, while pointing to Jesus Christ as the one true source of abundance and eternal freedom.

... THEN MULTIPLY
Our revolving loan model creates a cycle of hope that's transforming the lives of individuals, families, and whole villages in a sustainable way. Here's how it works:

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By the numbers
In 15 different communities in five countries around the world, TOLI is reaching poor families with these ABCs. Right now we have more than 400 clients in our program, with nearly 2000 who've benefitted from a TOLI loan since we began in 2004. The average microloan value is about $250, which clients use to buy the tools or supplies needed to start their business. Our social workers then stay in relationship with the client over the course of the loan offering both business and spiritual support. 



STAR STUDENTS
Meet a few of our newest clients! Each recently took a TOLI loan to build a small business or took part in our small business training classes. These classes teach the basics of entrepreneurship, including subjects like building a business plan, marketing, record keeping, budgeting, saving, and more—all from a Biblically-based framework. 

In Nicaragua, Sedy (center) took a loan this month to build her sewing business. Her new business will help her care for her elderly mother (left) and her grandchildren.

In Nicaragua, Sedy (center) took a loan this month to build her sewing business. Her new business will help her care for her elderly mother (left) and her grandchildren.

Mary, in Kenya, has invested in inventory for her small general shop.

Mary, in Kenya, has invested in inventory for her small general shop.

Last weekend, these new clients in India took part in our business training class.

Last weekend, these new clients in India took part in our business training class.


FIELD TRIPS

Egypt and Albania: Next week, a team of leaders and volunteers from the US will travel to our sites in Egypt and Albania. Please pray for this team as they go encourage clients and partners in the field— Dick and Mary Frieg, Wendi Lord, Steve and Linda Hood, Abigail McConnell, and Emad Yassa. 

2019 Field Trips: Teams are forming now for 2019! Find out more about joining us on a Vision Trip or Medical Mission Trip in the coming year here:


Come pray with us

Please join us for our monthly Prayer Gathering. We have a beautiful new office space where we gather and we're so excited to share it with you!

With specific and up-to-the-minute prayer requests submitted directly from our field staff, each month we lift up clients, social workers, our ministry partners in different countries, and the entire TOLI family of supporters. It's a powerful time and a great way to support TOLI. Please join us!

#TOLITuesday Prayer Gathering // 2nd Tuesday of each month
When:
 September 11, 12pm-1pm
Where: 5785 N. Union Blvd, Colorado Springs, CO 80918

If you have questions, or would prefer to join us by phone to pray, please email Linda Hood, our TOLI Prayer Coordinator. 
 


 

This is someone you're going to want to root for

From our Executive Director


Let me introduce you to a friend. I first met Esther last fall at her home—two small rooms divided by hanging sheets. There she lives with her children, her siblings and her siblings' children—eight of them all together. That day, Esther proudly showed me pictures of her kids, talked about her dreams, and prayed with our team as we stood shoulder to shoulder in that dimly lit room.

This month, Esther became a TOLI client—and a small business owner.

And she has been preparing. She's spent months taking part in a women's savings group, attending TOLI business training, and working with our social worker to create a business plan. 

Esther (left) sorts her new clothing inventory with TOLI staffer Lucy (right).

Esther (left) sorts her new clothing inventory with TOLI staffer Lucy (right).

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“I hope to have my own home with my family, educate my kids and raise our standard of living.” — Esther, 29

 

Now, Esther is a saleswoman of women's undergarments and clothes. She bought her inventory with a TOLI microloan of about $200, which she'll pay back in monthly installments over one year. Even though Esther only has a fourth grade education, she knows how to work hard, and how to serve. Esther volunteers her time to help clean her local church.

It may seem like the odds are against a 29-year-old single mother of eight in rural Kenya. And it's true Esther has a long road ahead. But she won't be alone. Our TOLI staffer Lucy, who's from Esther's very same community, will support her as she builds this brand new life, cheering her on, helping her stay brave, and pointing her to Jesus every step of the way. I feel so honored to know them both. 

I'll let you in on a little secret, if you can't already tell: Esther is one of my favorite clients. For some reason I find myself rooting for her extra hard.

Will you root for her too? Will you pray for her?

After all, isn't that what praying for each other really is—brothers and sisters rooting for each other before God? You and Esther and I, we're bound together as God's family. So we pull for each other and we root for each other—and in doing so we discover hope and dignity when we realize that God himself is rooting for us too.  

With gratitude and joy, 

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Abigail McConnell
Executive Director

PS: Scroll down to see how you can LITERALLY JOIN US in prayer next month...



Come pray with us — in our new office space

Big things happen when people pray. That's why we're inviting you to come pray with us—in person—for our clients, just like Esther, and for what God is doing through TOLI. Here's the best part: we have a new office space where we can gather together to pray! We're so excited to share it with you.

With specific and up-to-the-minute prayer requests submitted directly from our field staff, we will lift up clients by name, social workers, our ministry partners in different countries, and the entire TOLI family of supporters. Please join us!

#TOLITuesday Prayer Gathering // 2nd Tuesday of each month
When:
August 14, 12pm-1pm
Where: 5785 N. Union Blvd, Colorado Springs, CO 80918

We want this to be a tangible way for you to engage with TOLI. No gift is more powerful or more vital than the gift of prayer. 

If you have questions, or would prefer to join us by phone to pray, please email Linda Hood, our TOLI Prayer Coordinator. 
 

Nicaragua crisis: the good news and the bad news

Brenda, left, gives a thumbs up at her new snack bar business. 

Brenda, left, gives a thumbs up at her new snack bar business. 

For Brenda, the past three months have been life-changing— for her personally and for her country of Nicaragua. 

In April, Brenda took a TOLI loan to start her own small business, at the same time protests broke out in the capital city of Managua, sparking violence and unrest that continues to escalate. 

Despite the deteriorating situation she's watched unfold in her country, Brenda remains determined to build a new future for herself and her family.

"In the midst of adversity," Brenda says, "we have to maintain a positive attitude and make a difference by creating new ideas, opening doors for new purposes." 

Business is swift at Brenda's new snack bar, and the income is already making a difference in her life. She's learning small business skills, as well as biblical principles that are helping her, as she says, "improve my relationship with God, and be able to share the gospel with my children."

We're grateful for Brenda's determination and hope, but we're also concerned about the situation in Nicaragua. While most of the unrest has happened hours away from our partners in Puerto Cabezas, the unrest is spreading, as are the economic impacts. Road blockades and insecurity mean the normally safe highways are not open to deliveries of goods and services. Prices are spiking and resources are becoming scarce. While Brenda and our other clients are hopeful, there is a real vulnerability and uncertainty ahead. 

Because of this, we're adding a special opportunity to give in support of our Nicaragua program. By giving to our Nicaragua fund, you can help us best serve our partners in Puerto Cabezas during what we pray is a short season of turmoil. To help, click the button below and select the designation "Nicaragua." 

And, of course, please pray for peace in Nicaragua, for safety for our friends at VERBO Ministries in Puerto Cabezas, and for a resolution to this crisis.

THE GOOD NEWS: In just three months, Brenda's busy snack bar is booming. And she's proud to tell us what she's learning through TOLI's program. "By improving communication and working as a team," she reports, "I have stimulated my family a lot in terms of economic, social and spiritual growth."

THE GOOD NEWS: In just three months, Brenda's busy snack bar is booming. And she's proud to tell us what she's learning through TOLI's program. "By improving communication and working as a team," she reports, "I have stimulated my family a lot in terms of economic, social and spiritual growth."

THE BAD NEWS: For the past three months,  a police crackdown on civilians  protesting Nicaragua's government have led to hundreds of deaths, charges of human rights violations, and an economy at a total standstill. (Photo Credit: BBC News)

THE BAD NEWS: For the past three months, a police crackdown on civilians protesting Nicaragua's government have led to hundreds of deaths, charges of human rights violations, and an economy at a total standstill. (Photo Credit: BBC News)


Updates from our other sites

KENYA

— Here's a prayer request from Social Worker Lucy in Mai-I-Ihii, whose clients have experienced an unusual amount of loss, grief and challenge lately: "Pray for us to have wisdom from above, words of encouragement always while we visit these women. This month’s visits have had a fair share of low moments and sad stories, but with God’s grace we’ve been able to encourage the women."


INDIA

— Praise God for new wheels! Thanks to a special gift, our social worker Ashish will now have a motorbike to help him better serve clients in remote areas. Please pray that God will help him reach more clients around the Duars region.

EGYPT

— Praise God for growth. TOLI is multiplying quickly in Egypt — 3 new sites in just the last two months. Please pray for wisdom and provision for these new TOLI clients, for our volunteers through Heliopolis Evangelical Church, Cairo, and for our social workers. 

TOLI BOARD NEWS

— Please welcome Dick Frieg as TOLI's newest board member! Dick's rich background in missions through Cru, a long career in operations with David C Cook, and experience as a current small business owner make him an incredible addition to our team. 


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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: