Thank You for Improving Millions of Lives
As we wind down 2016, summer is fading to a distant memory. One thing that stands out for me, though, is just how hot it was—one of the hottest on record. While this year was ushered in on the promising note of the Paris Climate Change Conference, we’ve witnessed increasingly severe natural disasters and their effects on poor and vulnerable communities, reminding us that we still have much progress to make.
One of the biggest events to hit the FINCA community this year was Hurricane Matthew. Only six years after the magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck its capital, Haiti was in the news once again—this time as its southwestern region was blasted with winds up to 233 kilometers per hour. Thousands of homes were destroyed, crops and livestock were swept away, and hundreds of people lost their lives.
Once again, Haitians needed our help. And once again, you steadfastly and generously stood by Haitians in this time of need, inspired by their resilience. Thank you. With your help, we have been helping our clients affected by the storm pick up the pieces and rebuild their lives and livelihoods.
But with only a week before the New Year, I’m not looking back—only ahead. Looking forward, remaining optimistic, and seeing the possibilities—these are traits that I’ve seen in the lives of FINCA clients in Haiti, and everywhere we work. Wherever I have gone with FINCA, be it a market in Amman, a farm outside of Kampala or the streets of Port-au-Prince, I have encountered 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, and prosperous communities.
As a mother of two, I especially identify with our women clients. Often they are the sole breadwinners in their households. Mothers, grandmothers, daughters, 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.
Your support in 2016 has made it possible for over 1.6 million poor people 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.
But there remains so much to do: 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. If we are to tackle the poverty problem before us, we must demonstrate resilience and ingenuity—much like our clients.
With your help, FINCA is working to leverage the most innovative financial and mobile technologies to improve our services and reach more people in more remote areas. We are also working hard to build sustainable ways for people to get other basics—like clean water, renewable energy, and education. It’s a holistic approach to help people save time and money, be healthier and more resilient, and to protect our shared natural environment.
Two years ago, FINCA launched BrightLife, an innovative social enterprise that brings life-enhancing products such as solar lamps, clean cook stoves, and water filtration systems to people in the poorest communities. BrightLife also provides an additional livelihoods opportunity for our clients: We train them to sell and distribute the products, allowing them to earn an income. In just two years, these products have touched the lives of 75,000 people in Uganda—and we are poised to reach more than 250,000 people by the end of next year.
I hope you share my pride in what we have accomplished together and my excitement for what the future holds. Thank you for having the wisdom to believe that providing a hand up is more powerful than a handout. Thank you for continuing to share the fruits of your success with others so they, too, can taste the empowering freedom of having control over their lives and the dignity of providing for their family.
And, finally, thank you for standing with us as we look ahead to a better world.
Stéphanie Émond, Executive Director