Small amounts of cash help hard-working people help themselves.
I'm going to be climbing Mt Kilimanjaro next month to raise money for World Vision's newest initiative; microfinance: World Vision Micro. Joining me on the climb will be singer-songwriter Boh Runga, Olympic rowing sensations Mahe Drysdale and Juliette Haigh, radio host Kerre McIver and World Vision CEO Chris Clarke.
It's a fantastic idea this micro finance. Micro loans help hardworking people help themselves. In developing countries, entrepreneurs typically don't have the collateral or credit history to secure a traditional loan so this is where World Vision steps in. Once a borrower has been approved for a loan, their name, story and business idea are uploaded on to the Micro website. From there people can choose to fund all or part of their loan and when the loan gets paid back that money gets recycled to another entrepreneur over and over again. If you have a look online you'll see a typical loan is only in the hundreds. The entrepreneurs involved cover many industries including agriculture, commerce and production. People need $150 for fertiliser or $300 for mechanical parts. It doesn't seem much but it makes the world of difference to their business and therefore their community.
When I get over to Tanzania with my Kilichallenge teammates we'll be lucky enough to meet the entre-preneurs we've chosen to support.
I can't wait to get back to Africa. As some of you know I spent some time in Rwanda in 2009. The countryside was spectacular and so were the mountain gorillas but it was the people that had the most effect on me. They seemed to possess a sort of happiness that I hadn't seen before. Maybe it was life without high-speed cables, rush-hour traffic and breakfast radio DJs. I don't know ... but when I got home after my last visit I gave up lattes and Facebook for a week.
So here I go again, back to the mother of all continents and this time to climb its highest peak. Will I make it to the top? Well I'm going to give it a damned good try.
I started a training regime recently which sees me walking my 3-year-old to daycare instead of dropping him off in the car. He can walk only in short bursts because of his tiny legs but that's okay. I then carry him like a pack. I'm essentially Luke Skywalker carrying Yoda on Dagobah. It's all part of my training. I lower him down gently while bending my knees and he darts off immediately towards a busy road. "Stop!" I yell as I launch after him.
This tests my reflexes and agility. Then as we reach the shops he'll run into one and start listing his "wants". Yes ... well life's not all about "wants" young man. It's actually more about "needs". Kids take a while to learn that I guess. That's partly why I'm taking mine with me to Tanzania.
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