If you are like me, you’ve been reflecting lately on these times of change and uncertainty. In this election year, I’ve been thinking particularly about the enormous influence of the United States. I’ve been reflecting on the growing gap between rich and poor everywhere. And I’ve been thinking about how deeply connected our lives are with those of the poor in the developing world.
I have traveled from the markets of Kinshasa to farms outside of Tbilisi to the streets of Port-au-Prince. Wherever I go, I encounter the same thing: people like you and me who want nothing more than the opportunity to work and provide for their families in safe, healthy communities, right where they are. They don’t feel a need to be rich. But they want to move beyond the incredible daily struggles of being poor.
As a mother of two, I especially identify with FINCA’s women entrepreneur-clients. Often they are the sole breadwinners in their households. Mothers, grandmothers, wives and widows, whose perseverance and ingenuity constantly inspire me. In their kids, I see my own, and I understand that their future on this planet is a shared one.
A startling 2 billion people still lack access to basic financial services. Many of these marginalized and financially excluded people live on less than $2.50 per day. With your help, FINCA is working to see what they need most and how best to use mobile technologies to reach more people in more remote areas. We are also working hard to build sustainable ways for people to afford other basics—like clean water, energy in the home or business, and education. It’s a holistic approach to help people save time and money, be healthier and more resilient, and to save our shared natural environment.
In this regard, two years ago FINCA launched BrightLife, an innovative social enterprise that is bringing high impact, life-enhancing products such as solar lamps, clean cookstoves and water filtration systems to people in the poorest communities. I’m proud to report that in this time BrightLife has touched the lives of approximately 75,000 women, men and children in Uganda. Based on this success, we are starting to ramp up and hope to reach at least this many next year. It is because of donor support to FINCA that this program is a reality.
Your support in 2016 has made it possible for over 1.6 million poor people—both women and men—to receive responsible financial services that promote economic and social well-being. Another way I like to look at the impact: when you consider their children and families, FINCA has touched the lives of more than nine million people this year.
Thank you for having the wisdom to believe that providing a hand up to poor women and men is more powerful than a handout. Thank you also for having faith in FINCA to make sure your generosity serves the world’s poorest so they can begin to experience the freedom of having control over their lives. Finally, thank you for understanding the bonds that connect us all.