Alphabet Soup, Kippahs and Microbusiness

I’ve been in DC since Monday morning and I was once again reminded of the energy of a big city. I had experienced this previously, most notably when I lived in Madrid, but there is truly something electric about being in a large city. I love the hustle, bustle and stimulation from people watching. There is certainly never a dull moment.

Now, the real reason I was in DC was for a conference on Microenterprise, or should I say Microbusiness with AEO. The sessions were very informative, but most of all, I loved talking with the people here. The first person I met was oh, I don’t know, the COO of one of Accion‘s regional branches. nbd. I also met representatives from Kiva, Grameen, Intersect Fund, CBA and many other incredible organizations who all support the microbusiness industry in some way.

We learned about a new program Kiva will launch soon, I talked with a somewhat creepy old guy (meaning I couldn’t quite tell if he was just nice or hitting on me, you know how that goes :)) I also met a Jewish man who wears a kippah all the time! I don’t know why this fascinates me, but I guess being raised in the South has limited my exposure to practicing Jews. Sorry Joey, you don’t count any more. In all seriousness, it was fascinating to talk with him. His organization, the Hebrew Free Loan Society has been around since 1892!

I started the conference off with a bang by attending the wrong regional lunch. Apparently the big city was just too much for this Southern gal and I ended up at the Northeast luncheon instead of the Southeast luncheon (though in my defense, they were on opposite sides of the same room). Needless to say, I got a nice chuckle the second I opened my mouth and said: “Hey y’all, I’m Taylor and I’m from South Carolina. I think I’m supposed to be on that side of the room.” Simple southerner, this whole divide yourselves up thing was just a little too complicated.

Twice, I was told that I didn’t sound southern – I think they meant hick, but I just went with it. Twice, I was called a “baby” because I was almost 23 and everyone I was talking with was at least double my age. #winning I was schooled on my lack of knowledge of the alphabet: CBA, CRA, TA, and QXLF are all new acronyms I learned (just kidding on the last one, though I think I’ll start the Quite eXotic Lending Fund just to mess with people). I also had some lovely conversations about SEC football. Go cocks!

Though I am ready to be home (I’m currently writing from the hotel lobby), I am so glad that I came. I have learned so much and met some incredible people who are really shaping the field of microfinance, microlending, microenterprise, microbusiness, you get the picture. If you ever want to know anything about microenterprise, I’m your gal.*

*I apologize for the excessive use of the word gal. I think it is my southern roots rebelling against all these Yankees.


Good Intentions, Pie, and The Hunger Games

I love me some info graphics and educational videos. Some of these will eventually wind up as their own post if they haven’t already. Until then, enjoy!

How a Pastor Fuels Global Missions from Desiring God on Vimeo.

From Poverty Cure: On Global Aid today

From Nasha Lending: Lisa’s story about Marvelous Pies

From The Resurgence – You can read my opinion of The Hunger Games here

The Chalmers Center from The Chalmers Center on Vimeo.

Postgrad Life

A few months ago I entered the new frontier known only to me as “Adult World,” I knew that my life was about to change. I was fortunate to be living under the shelter of my parents for 22 years and it was finally time to branch out on my own. I started assuming responsibility for my bills, making my own money (perhaps that should be listed first), managing my life – grocery shopping, car maintenance, dishwasher and toilet repair, purchasing (and repairing) internet, etc. I was excited, albeit a little nervous. My parents have gradually pushed me to this stage, allowing me to assume incremental responsibility to prepare me for “Adult World” (Also known as “Real Life”). I was confident that I could do it, although equally confident that I would make mistakes. Fortunately, to date, there have been minimal mistakes, I think.

One thing I have learned is that I HATE. HATE. HATE. dealing with internet/cable companies. There is only one company that services my apartment complex and it rhymes with “barter” I receive about a call every 2 weeks asking me if I want to “upgrade,” “add a phone line” or a variety of other products. The answer is and always will be, NO. No, I don’t need a landline. NO ONE USES A LANDLINE ANYMORE. Welcome to the 21st century. In case I am traversing a remote location around the world where there is no cell service I will gladly exchange my phone for a few moments, days, weeks of freedom. This reality too, is shrinking since rural Kenyan farmers now can pay their bills via their cellphone.

However, despite some minor mishaps and frustrations, I am enjoying life as a post-grad. I have a good job (now 2, but more on that in a separate post), great friends and a lot of freedom. I will admit though, there are days when I REALLY miss having dinner already made when I get home, which is sometimes after 8:30/9. There have been (too many) days when cereal was my breakfast AND dinner. Whoops. I still maintain that breakfast for dinner, also known as “brinner” is one of my favorite meals, although preferably more than just cereal 🙂

More posts will follow, but the wireless router is currently not working and I have been told that I can pay a mere $199.98 to have unlimited help for a year! Umm, no thank you. Your device broke, YOU should fix it. FO’ FREE. Now, make me a sandwich. Alas, I will post them when I get to a place with wireless because I refuse to subject myself to the neandertholic practice of hooking up to an Ethernet cable. Sheesh.

A Cure to Poverty

Where to begin. There are so many good quotes, ideas, and solutions in this video that I can hardly write about it all. I am partially biased because of my affinity for microfinance and my belief that it offers a practical, viable solution for many economic problems. It is certainly not a cure-all, but in my opinion, it is a much better solution than billions of dollars in aid. Not a single country has risen out of poverty or third world status based on the amount of aid received and I would imagine that in many cases, the countries receiving the most aid have stagnated disproportionally. Obviously, a cause-effect argument could be made, but regardless, it is clear that aid alone is not the solution.

Before I go any further, I would like to state that I am not against foreign aid. I think it has its place, if executed properly. There are many people who owe their lives to foreign aid. In fact the extreme poverty rate has been cut in half, from 52% to 26%, in the last 30 years and the “under age five” mortality rate has been cut in half during that time, from 40,000 to 21,000 per day. These are encouraging numbers, but the fact remains that over 3 billion people (50% of the World’s population) live on less than $2 a day (via Global Issues). Many of the world’s poor are extremely resourceful, after all, necessity is the mother of all invention, so it follows that there would be a high entrepreneurial spirit within these communities.

The question remains, do our “solutions” to poverty alleviation reflect that the people we are helping are created in God’s image? What do our current aid systems say about our view of ourselves and of others? If we intentionally or unintentionally create systems of paternalism, dependency and stagnation are we properly stewarding the resources that God has given us?

I ask that you please watch this video. It is an interesting and engaging look at a Poverty Cure.

*Special thanks to Joey, Mo and Jim who recommended this video to me.