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…

3 inspiring stories fresh from the field

Over the past few weeks, we've met face to face with dozens of clients in Egypt and Kenya to hear about their lives, check on their progress, and pray together. We were thrilled at their successes and inspired by what God is doing in their lives. Here are three of our favorite stories...

Fayez Hanna: Overcoming disability and finding joy


Fayez was born with cerebral palsy in El Khom el Akhdar, Egypt. Because of his physical and mental disabilities he had never been able to have a job. Idle and unhappy, he was a burden to his already struggling family. Then, TOLI helped him start a small project with a microloan. He bought an inventory of candy and sweets, and decided to try to sell them from a cart outside of churches and schools. It worked. Fayez soon was working regularly and earning steady income. The extra money helped, but his family also noticed how much happier and more stable Fayez had become. He no longer fought with family and neighbors. He had purpose and began setting goals for himself. Fayez is now completely independent, earns his own income, and contributes to the needs of his widowed mom as well. Fayez's loan is now paid off, and he continues to be one the most popular guys on the block. 


Raooth Atta: Empowered to care for her family

When Raooth's husband was severely injured in an accident, he lost his ability to work and required full-time in-home care. With both of them now unemployed and housebound, their situation looked bleak. But soon Raooth found a creative solution using a TOLI microloan and a stock of fish. Because catfish are able to live for a long time in containers, she realized she can sell them right in front of her house, allowing her to continue to care for her husband as well as earn an income. She now has a bustling business offering her customers fresh catfish, which she cleans and filets as she sells them. With the income her catfish business is earning, she's now able to pay for her husband’s medical treatment and support her three young kids. 


Stella Mumbua: Head of household at age 25

Stella is determined to overcome her obstacles. At just 25, she's an orphan, a single mom to 8-year-old Hanson, and the guardian to her two elementary school-aged siblings. But with grit, charisma and her energetic personality, Stella is fighting hard for her family. We visited her tidy one-room apartment, where she was thrilled to show us her new clothing inventory, recently purchased with a TOLI loan. Her clothing business clientele is growing steadily. What's more, she is a member of 3 different savings groups, and meticulously records her weekly deposits in journals she keeps at her bedside (see picture above). Step by step, Stella is finding her purpose and taking charge of her life with determination, faith, and joy. 


Travel with us! There's no better way to understand how TOLI changes lives than by joining us on a Vision Trip. Visit our TOLI communities, meet and pray with clients, and get to know our partner ministries. Several trips are already in the works for 2019. Interested? Email Abigail McConnell for details. 

Other highlight from our March visits

— Our second site has surpassed 1000 loans.
The village of Nazzlet Hanna has granted over 1000 microloans and is now in the process of expanding TOLI to nearby villages. 
— Heliopolis Church takes a key role. A devoted group of volunteers is helping to grow TOLI to multiple sites around Cairo through their church planting efforts. 
— Field staff meet and collaborate. Social workers and program directors from our Egypt sites met with TOLI leaders to share resources and training. 

— Small business training. More than 20 women in the village of Mai-A-Ihii completed a 4-day small business course, equipping them with tools needed to develop and grow their businesses.
— TOLI launches in Chuka. We signed a contract with KCK Ministries in Chuka, and together will serve the community by bringing enterprise and discipleship to their community through savings groups. 


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PS: We need you! Here are 3 ways you can jump in:

1. PRAY. The clients above are just three examples of thousands God has touched through TOLI — and it's all because of prayer. Please pray for TOLI clients, partner ministries and leadership. And pray about how you can be a part of what God is doing through this ministry. 

2. GIVE TO TOLI. We are reaching more people in more places than ever before, so we need your support. Please prayerfully consider a gift to TOLI to help us equip more people with life-changing microloans and the life-saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. GIVE NOW.

3. REQUEST A SPEAKER. Are you in the Colorado Springs area and have a small group, Bible Study, missions committee or business group that would be interested in hearing more about our ministry? We'd love to share! CONTACT US to request a speaker.