As we round out the holiday season, it is important to reflect on the sentiments that make this time of year so special: giving, family, and reflection. This month, we turn our donor spotlight to a more recent addition to the Wisconsin Microfinance donor family, Aaron Gary.
Originally from California, Gary has been living in Madison for around 20 years, working as a state attorney and a father to three. In fact, it was due to the latter that we found Mr. Gary’s story so interesting.
He first learned of Wisconsin Microfinance through his son while the pair were searching for a Madison non-profit with which to get involved. A National Honor Society student, his son wanted to volunteer with an organization he felt strongly about, rather than just doing whatever was convenient. With an interest in business, he felt that Wisconsin Microfinance was a great place to donate his time and satisfy more than just a time commitment.
A former economics major himself, Gary had a prior understanding of microfinance that led he and his son to choose Wisconsin Microfinance. After doing some research, Gary learned more about the benefits and success of microfinance as a whole. According to Gary, he sees microfinance as a “catalyst for helping people help themselves,” emphasizing that the autonomy maintained in the microloan process is one of the most distinguishing pieces of the practice. Microfinance, as a financial jumpstart, allows people to take charge of their own destiny with their own ideas. In addition, he highlighted the importance of the use of a loan pool and the perennial benefit it gives to the community as a whole. With the inclusion of business education and a variety of other support systems provided along with the loan, each donation provides a potential for expansion that extends far beyond the initial loan.
For Wisconsin Microfinance, a loan pool is the middle point between the donation and the recipient. Money donated to our programs goes into a community fund on site, where it is doled out in pieces to small business owners trying to expand operations and create new lives for themselves. Once the loan is repaid, it goes back into the flow, creating a self-replenishing pool that grows exponentially with every completed loan.
This time of year, people tend to become more generous. But does the spirit of giving have to be limited to December? There are so many ways in which to continue the idea of goodwill towards all in our communities, both local and global. Whether it be donating time or money, there is always a way to create good in this world. In Aaron Gary’s words, “There is need all around us, and there is no shortage of opportunities to contribute. Just look around.”