Microfinance

Outreach

If you haven’t heard about CUDA’s community development program, you should visit the CUDA blog and read this post.
 
Recently, some participants in this program and other neighbors began studying the Bible.  It is always our hope that CUDA beneficiaries will be interested in talking more about faith or reading the Bible, but we try not to make anyone feel pressure to do so.  Instead, we talk openly about our own faith and make invitations to have personal conversations.  Very often these invitations come to nothing, but sometimes a seeker will take us up on the offer.  
 
Then there are the times when program participants invite us to share more with them.  That was the case for the community development program.  After we had got to know each other a little, some of the ladies in the program were chatting with me after a meeting, asking what I do in Arequipa.  This is a common question, and I usually explain that I moved my family to Arequipa because we want to tell people about the kingdom of God by serving in different ways, such as through CUDA, and by sharing the Bible with people who are interested.  Before I could get to an invitation, they asked if I would be willing to study the Bible with them.  Those are fun situations for a missionary—when you can just say yes.  This is not a fairytale story, though.  These women live hard lives, and they work whenever they can.  It is difficult to find a time to meet with them, so our studies are sporadic.  I’m praying that we can find a regular time and really get into the story of Jesus together.
 
Another Bible study has come out of a loan group.  After finishing the biblical business ethics class that is part of their curriculum as borrowers, a few of them requested to continue studying.  Paty and I meet every Thursday with this small group to read Mark.  Alcoholism afflicts one participant’s life, and we have tearfully begun to work through difficult family dynamics.  Paty and I were glad to have Mark Clancy visit from Lima recently and play an encouraging role in the study.  Sometimes it is hard to see they way ahead, but we trust that the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it.  It is a blessing to be reminded of that when other Christians visit and reflect the light.

CUDA: Year in Review

This year has been a great year for CUDA.  The Living Libraries program has had a great year, as you’ve seen in our newsletters.  Students have improved their ability to read and teachers are better prepared to teach future students.  In the micro-loan program we surpassed our goals for both no-interest and low-interest loans.  Interest in the program remains strong and we have been blessed recently to begin a new bible study with members of one borrower group.  We are prayerful that more opportunities for in-depth bible studies will present themselves next year.  
 
The reality of all development (and mission) work is that without supporters it is impossible to sustain.  We have taken steps to generate funds with Cafe Connection (Arequipa), Passport Language School (Arequipa) and in 2014 we will begin selling CUDA Coffee in the USA.  These business ventures will help us but they will not be able to provide all of the funding required to sustain our staff and programs.  The fact is we need your help.  Giving has been down this year and we find ourselves without sufficient operating funds for the coming year.  We have been soliciting grants and there are still possibilities for funding in that area, but the processes move more slowly than our needs.  We are asking that you, as you all have done many times in the past, decide to help.
 
If you want to make a donation there are a few ways you can help:
 
Go to www.cudaperu.org and donate to our operating funds or to a borrower with an open loan.
 
Go to www.purecharity.com/living-libraries and donate to the installation of one new Living Library in 2014.  We want to open 3 new libraries and it takes $6000 to install just one.
 
You can send a check made out to “CUDA” to:
    c/o Mark Adams
    1200 Cedar Lane
    Tullahoma, TN  37388
 
Once we begin selling CUDA coffee (very, very soon!) you can buy a bag, ten bags, or a subscription.  We’ll be sure to mail you once everything is ready.
 
This isn’t the first time that we have been short on funds.  Every time people have risen to the challenge, often surpassing the need.  We are grateful for the way God uses you to keep us working here in Arequipa. 

CUDA View

Over the past few months we’ve been able to report great news regarding the library program.  Teachers are being trained, kids are learning to love reading and recently the Ministry of Education gave our program their stamp of approval.  Receiving official government backing gives the Living LIbrary program real validity and will help us in the future as we begin expanding the program to new schools.  Lucia has really grown into her role as director of the library program and Megan is staying busy training her in the techniques she’ll need to continue the program’s success.  
 
At the end of June CUDA was sad to say goodbye to Neil Cantrall.  Neil has worked with CUDA as an expert volunteer for about a year.  With years of experience as a bilingual teacher, his contribution to the library program was invaluable.  Neil and his family moved to Lima to start a job with an international school.  We wish him the best and ask you to be praying for their transition to a new home, new school for their kids, and new ministry opportunity.
 
In other news, a new borrower group received their first no-interest loans and had their first meetings.  I love sitting through the first meeting of each group because Paty always starts at the same place.  She spends the first meeting having each borrower define what a business is, what a business does, and then hammers home the point that they are businesswomen (or men).  Having a business is something important, something valuable.  All too often our borrowers don’t see what they do as important, or as having value and that often times gets reflected back on them.  So basically our first meetings are pep-rallies not only building their pride in their work but also their self-worth/esteem.  I love getting to experience that first meeting with each group, and to see the foundation for all following meetings being laid.
 
I would like to ask that you be praying for CUDA in the area of fundraising.  This is not a plea for donations (though I won’t turn anything way) but to let you know of some opportunities that have arisen.  Specifically, we are submitting proposals to Rotary clubs both in Peru and in the US that could begin funding the library program’s 5 year plan.  We will also be applying for other grants hoping to secure long-term funding.  Be praying that both individual and group donors step in to keep CUDA running!

CUDA News: October

Another month, another update.  There's been some big news that you may not have heard so get ready.  Before I do I'd like to remind you all to pray for the safe travels of Greg and Megan (their kids too).  They get back to Arequipa on the 28th and its fair to say that the work has missed them.
 
I'll start with Cafe Connection.  After eight months of being open we were faced with an emergency situation.   For months, we had been receiving notices from various banks and stores concerning the outstanding debt the owner of the building had accumulated.  Well, at the end of September, a letter came threatening repossession of the building but, more important, it advised us that a bank had received authorization from the courts to enter the building by force and remove the possessions therein.  This was understandably a serious concern, so we began to look for a new location in case the situation worsened and the cafe’s belongings were seized.  One week into our search, Alfredo happened across an option downtown and after two or three visits we decided to sign the lease.  We really like the new location and think it has a lot of potential.  It is downtown, one block off of the main square in an old-style sillar building.  We hope to reopen by the first of November, though this is still Peru, so we will see.
 
The micro-loan program is rolling along nicely.  Paty is now in charge of more weekly group meetings than I am and she is running them better than I ever could.  We are currently at the interviewing stage with one new group and a good number of loans are still available on the website with four more to be added soon (so go check it out (cudaperu.org/loans)!  One new development in the micro-loan program is the addition of a new type of loan aimed at low-income homeowners in newly founded, under-developed communities.  We hope to offer home-improvement loans at very low (or no!) interest for construction costs on their homes.  I plan on posting more about this, including our reasons for offering these loans, but I hope you'll prayerfully consider helping these new borrowers improve their homes.  More info coming soon!
 
As you may have read the public school teachers of Peru went on strike shortly before the McKinzies left for their furlough.  About two weeks ago the strike slowly began to lift and Neil Cantrall, who was left in charge of the program, has began to get back to work in the schools.   While he has not had a lot of opportunities to be with the kids this month he has had a lot of time to prepare, and to work with the volunteers of Put Them First, the NGO we partner with at one of the schools.   Pray for the kids at the schools we partner with.  They missed two months of school and must  make up that time in order to move on to the next grade.  As the school year winds down Megan will begin to meet with Neil and the other library workers to develop strategy and plan for next year.  It should be an exciting one and we'll have a lot of things to announce before the year is out.
 
Well that seems to be all the big news to share for now, with more to come soon as there are some very exciting things in the works.  Keep praying for the Peruvians we are trying to help, the CUDA staff and volunteers, and our stateside partners who help make this possible.  We are grateful for all of you and your continued, prayerful, support.

CUDA News: August

Last year we wrote about the “plan” we had for CUDA.  That plan included bringing three Peruvians (Alfredo, Paty, and Abraham) on board as paid full-time employees.  Like all plans, good or bad, they run their own course and the new year found us only able to bring Alfredo on as the Executive Director for CUDA.  Though we really wanted to hire them all at the same time the funding simply wasn’t there so we started with Alfredo and decided to work towards a middle of the year hire for the other two.  Well we missed that mark as well but thankfully we found ourselves in a position to hire Abraham and Paty on a part-time basis starting in August.  So it is with a lot of joy and thankfulness to God that I can announce, officially, that CUDA now has three Peruvian directors working together to bring about justice, wellbeing, and joy in the city.

Megan’s article gives an in depth update in her article this month so you should check it out and pray over all that is happening with the teachers, volunteers, and students involved in the program.  On the micro-finance side things are running better than ever.  We have added two new groups in as many months and have one new group that just began forming this week.  Bringing Paty on board this month has been a huge blessing to the program.  Instead of just diving into the middle of things (which is where she already was) she decided to go back to the beginning and re-familiarize herself with all of our plans and practices regarding the loan groups which has led to some healthy questioning of our policies.  Abraham jumped right in this month and began the difficult process of becoming familiar with everything we do, every program we have and every person we work with so he can help make all of what the NGO does more holistic.  Sometimes we get bogged down with the details and mundane process of running a program that we can allow the spiritual side of our work to slide to the back burner.  Abraham’s job is to make sure that doesn’t happen.  One thing he did this month was plan and hold a seminar on motivation (a necessary topic for college students who just began a new semester) at Alas Peruanas, a university where we are making connections.  Pray for our directors as they learn to work together as a team, ministering to the city of Arequipa.

One last thing to mention and petition prayers for is our continuing education.  While on the field we are always learning.  Sometimes that learning happens through books or classes and sometimes (often) through trial and error.  In September Alfredo will begin a masters program from a university in Lima (via distance learning) in NGO management and I will begin an online program in international development from a university in England.  Our hope is that with further education we will be better equipped to serve the people of Arequipa to whom CUDA reaches out.

CUDA News: January

For the past few years now one of my primary jobs has been overhauling and then managing CUDA’s micro-finance operations. This sounds really complex, and it probably should be, but for now I’ve kept things simple. Thanks to Greg (research, creativity), Paty (Peruvian connections, business training), and a lot of trial and error we’ve managed to make 31 loans to 29 different Peruvian entrepreneurs. What started out as a useful division of labor has turned in to one of my favorite jobs here in Peru. It has been challenging and frustrating, rewarding and surprising. As I begin the process of searching for a new group (or two) part of me cringes at the time and number of cell phone calls I’ll need to invest to get the groups formed and approved, but a larger part of me is excited and eagerly awaiting the new relationships that will be formed - and that is the most surprising part of our micro-loan program, the relationships.

Going into this project we knew that it would afford us opportunities to meet a lot of new people and make new friends. The potential was there for bible study and converts, but first and foremost we knew that opportunities to bless borrower’s lives (with more than just a loan) would present themselves. I have been blown away by what has happened. Put simply, God has worked. Oh we haven’t had an in-depth bible study with every person or baptized 20% of our borrowers,but we have encountered people struggling to make ends meet, searching for a way to pick themselves and their family up just a little bit, looking for help. On the surface these people, our friends, look like any ordinary person with a business—busy with but a few minutes to spare, if you can find them. Once the loan has been made and regular contact established (via weekly borrower meetings) we discover an incredible amount of openness.

The openness is expressed in numerous ways. Mothers start sharing about their families, both the good and the bad. Group time becomes prayer time as daughters-in-law process the deaths of their mothers-in-law. What starts out as a simple “share about your week” session turns into an hour long discussion on death, heaven, and whether or not we really will have our own mansions in the great by-and-by. A difficult week for a group member turns into a brainstorming session on ways they can improve their business in the coming days. The rainy season and vacationers are blamed for a drop in sales. An upcoming surgery is prayed over. A borderline abusive relationship is counseled against. To summarize, life is shared.

And it is this, life being shared, which sums up our reason for having a micro-loan program. We know it is unconventional. We also know it might not result in overflowing church meetings. What we do know is that it results in relationships being formed and life being shared and in those moments God works. Through this program we’ve been led to a group of Christians needing connection to the family at large and been able to study with a few individuals. We’ve been able to be present and let God work through us to bless the lives of Peruvians. And that is why we are here in the first place.

Crossing Cultures: Entrepreneurs

As a reader of this newsletter, I’m sure you know that a large part of our developmental ministry is doing micro-loans, which just means small amounts (by our definition) loaned to small businesses. I’ve recently done more thinking than usual on this subject due to some conversations with Anna Heikkilä about her thesis topic options and realized some cultural trends that I had simply not noticed before. 

CUDA View: Pre-funding - Why We Do It

I’ve written recently about the changes taking place in our loan program. A number of those changes have been implemented since the writing of that article. I now have a growing stack of applications from potential borrowers waiting for approval, the new website is entering the planning phase and our first borrowers’ group meeting took place last Friday. One new development that I forgot to include in the list was our decision to begin pre-funding loans. 

ICDU View: Hope

While in the States on furlough (got back a week ago) we were afforded many opportunities to talk to people at our supporting churches. While in Tyler we talked with classes and small groups each Sunday and in Tullahoma we got to speak to all the adults one Sunday. A consistent topic of conversation was our loan program. Some people didn’t know about it, or were unsure of what all it entailed. Others wanted a better explanation/understanding of why we offer no-interest loans to Peruvians. Still others asked how they could help and indeed we got to raise money for Ines’ loan while back.

ICDU View: Lending

Over the next few months I’ll be spending my newsletter slot on our entrepreneurs who have taken advantage of our no-interest loan program. I want to spend each month highlighting a borrower and their business. Recently, over on ICDU’s website, I put out an update on the four loans we have made and the two other possible loans to be made. While this program has advanced as we had hoped, it would be even more amazing to break expectations and make another loan or two in 2010.