Hope International (Christian microfinance)
Hope International is a Christ-centered microfinance organization that offers micro-loans and savings programs to poor individuals of all faiths in third world countries. The organization has assisted over 400,000 entrepreneurs since it began operations in 1997 and approximately 82% of those clients are women. Hope is a non profit organization based in Lancaster, PA.
|Headquarters||Lancaster, PA, United States|
|Key people||Jeff Rutt, Founder, and Peter Greer, President|
|Revenue||$7,630,096 (Dec 31, 2010)|
|Employees||36 (Mar 15, 2012)|
Need for financial services for the poor
The World Bank reports that, “nearly 3 billion people in developing countries have little or no access to formal financial services.” According to CGAP, “people living in poverty, like everyone else, need a diverse range of financial services to run their businesses, build assets, smooth consumption and manage risks.” Traditionally, poor people fill financial gaps by borrowing from friends and family or by borrowing from loan sharks who charge high interest rates.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Jeff Rutt and the Pennsylvania based church he attended partnered with a Ukrainian pastor to provide charitable goods to the Ukrainian community. After three years of partnership, Rutt found that the goods were creating dependence upon charity instead of achieving long term change within the community. After looking into different forms of development aid, Rutt decided to initiate a microfinance program to empower poor people in Ukraine. With the backing of Rutt's church and the Ukrainian pastor, Rutt offered small business loans to local individuals. The program was successful and in 1997 Rutt established Hope International. After further work in the Ukraine, the organization began looking for opportunities to expand its operations into other countries where a need for such services had been identified. In 2004, Peter Greer became Hope's president after spending several years at various micro finance organizations and attending graduate school at Harvard University.
Hope International offers two primary lending and saving methods depending on the country of operation. The first method is called Savings and Credit Associations. Savings and Credit Associations are formed by a group of 10 to 50 individuals who agree to make regular savings deposits into a common fund. Savers retain ownership of the funds they have deposited. Many associations allow for donors to take out loans (to be repaid with an agreed upon amount of interest) from the pool of savings after the loan has been approved by the members of the association. This method can also be referred to as community banking.
An alternative form of credit association, referred to as solidarity groups, involves a group of 5 to 15 people who receive a larger loan amount from Hope International. The money is divided into loans and offered to members of the association. Loans are cross guaranteed by the borrowers since there is no form of collateral to offer for the loan. Accountability to the group provides incentive to repay loans and to contribute additional savings to the group.
In some locations, Hope International offers traditional loans and savings services. Traditional loans and savings services are offered in countries with cultures that tend to be more individual than community oriented. In these situations an individual business owner is allowed to take out their own loan or start their own savings.
Since its inception, Hope International has recorded a 96% payback rate. The organization currently operates in sixteen countries and partners with six additional organizations to provide financial services to over 400,000 clients. All field staff are native to the communities in which they work and are evaluated by their clients.
The Role of Faith at Hope International
Although Hope International is a Christian organization, it works with individuals of all faiths.
Countries Where Hope International operates / Partner organizations
- Dominican Republic: Esperanza International Established in 2004.
- Haiti: Esperanza International Established in 2006.
- Philippines: Center for Community Transformation Established in 2007.
- Romania: ROMCOM
- Rwanda: Urwego Opportunity Bank Established in 2005.
- Democratic Republic of Congo Established in 2004.
- Zimbabwe: Acta Non Verba
- Burundi: Established in 2008
- China: Established in 2000
- Moldova: Established in 2005
- Ukraine: Established in 1997.
- Republic of Congo Established in 2009.
Hope International has a ten member Board of Trustees chaired by Jeff Rutt. The organization also has twelve regional board members located throughout the US in California, Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Texas, New England and Virginia. Peter Greer was appointed as President of the organization in 2004 after working abroad with various micro finance organizations and graduating from Harvard Business School.
Homes for Hope
Homes for HOPE, an affiliate program of HOPE International, was also established in 1998 by Jeff Rutt. Through Homes for HOPE, home builders and trade partners are able to build benefit homes on a pro bono basis. To date, the organization has raised more than $10,000,0000 in support of HOPE International, and is currently operating in nine states in the United States. In 2008, Jeff Rutt was awarded the Hearthstone Builder Humanitarian Award for his humanitarian efforts.
- The Poor Will Be Glad by Greer and Smith
- When Helping Hurts by Corbett and Fikkert
- The Blue Sweater by Jacqueline Novogratz
- A Billion Bootstraps by Smith and Thurman
- Banker To The Poor by Muhammad Yunus
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