July Newsletter

July 21, 2019

Note from the Executive Director

Change is in the air!  Along with the change in seasons, Wisconsin Microfinance is also experiencing some change.  I started my role as Executive Director June 1, we have expanded and strengthened our board, and we are taking steps to build the infrastructure that will allow us to expand into new geographies to reach an even greater number of entrepreneurs. 

Let’s start with the board.  We have added six new board members in the last few months with one stepping away, bringing our total to 11.  Alana McKeever, a long-serving board member has stepped off the board to focus on her other varied interests.  Alana played a key role in getting the organization where it is today and her presence on the board will be missed. She will continue to support the organization in other ways, and we are so grateful for that!  Our six new board members have a wide variety of experiences and skill sets that we will need to help us continue to support and grow our efforts.  In May’s newsletter we shared biographies of four new members; see below for biographies of our two newest board members.

The changes in our infrastructure will not be very noticeable externally, but they will help us do our work more efficiently and effectively.  Technology is always a challenge for a nonprofit of our size, and we’re looking at different options for data storage and marketing that are cost-effective yet have the capability to meet our growing needs.  We’re also changing some of our internal reporting systems to help us do our work more effectively.

And of course, change in leadership is always significant as one style and approach is replaced by another.  Aaron did a great job of easing me into this role and paving the way for my success for which I am very grateful.  My tendency is to want to jump into a new thing with both feet, but I’ve learned over the years that taking the time to ask questions to learn from those who know is time well spent.  So, I’ve tried to do that as much as possible while I also push forward on some of the great opportunities that are coming our way.  I’m very excited to visit our program in the Philippines in September as this will ground me in our work early on in my tenure.  Look for more from me as I navigate us through this next change in the life of Wisconsin Microfinance!

Fall Philippines Trip

Two interns, Morgan Conaway Bauman and Natalia Kaminski, Tom Eggert and Allison Cooley will be visiting our program in the Philippines in the fall. Allison will visit in late September for two weeks, Tom will visit in November and Morgan and Natalia will be staying in the Philippines for three months. We will have two main goals for our trip:  strengthening our relationship with the Visayas Cooperative Development Center (VICTO), our credit union partner in the Philippines, and to gather stories from our loan recipients. 

We’ll spend most of our time on the island of Bohol in the Central Visayas region of the Philippines, flying into nearby Cebu City, the oldest city and first capital of the Philippines, where VICTO is based. VICTO has been our partner in the Philippines since we started our program there in 2014 after a devastating typhoon hit the island.  As with any partnership in a developing country, early on we had successes and setbacks as we tried to develop and administer a microloan program that worked for both of us.  We now have a solid partnership that has seen the number of loan recipients grow by an average of 43% annually since 2016 and an almost 79% increase year over year since 2016 in the amount of the loans. 

To make the best use of our time with VICTO, we’ve asked Dudz Sampson, President of VICTO and a huge advocate for our work, to identify areas we could provide staff training or support.  As we look to increase the number of loans and the geographies we are covering in the Philippines, marketing our product becomes somewhat more challenging, especially to women, so we expect this will be something we’ll focus on.  Also, the paperwork we require from VICTO can sometimes pose a challenge for staff, so we will spend time with them reviewing the reporting process.  We are also excited just to spend time with Dudz and his staff, learning about their work and how they interact with their clients. 

We have nearly 300 loans serviced through VICTO to individuals living around the island of Bohol.  The loan recipients have a wide variety of businesses including raising hogs or goats, producing fertilizer, and selling clothing.  Our colleagues at VICTO will help arrange visits with our borrowers so we can learn more about them and bring their stories back to you.

In our next post, we’ll share more about our preparations for the trip and how we’ll be spending our time with VICTO staff.

If you are interested in helping fund Morgan and Natalia’s work in the Philippines, your support would be appreciated!

Donate to our Fall 2019 Philippines Trip

Spread the word!

Would your social group, professional organization, church group or other organization be interested in learning more about our mission and programs?  We find that microfinance is a topic that generates a lot of interest and people are eager to hear how it can be put into action to make a tangible impact on poverty.  We would love to come and speak with your organization and share stories of how Wisconsin Microfinance is making a difference to those living in extreme poverty.   Please contact Allison Cooley, [email protected], to arrange a time and a speaker.

Upcoming Events

The first-ever Wisconsin Microfinance Golf Tournament will be held Friday, August 16 at Glenway Golf Course, 3747 Speedway Rd in Madison.  This tournament, dubbed the Average-Golfer Golf Tournament, is the brainchild of Julian Gary, our student volunteer from West High School and his colleagues from the West HS microfinance group.  They have planned the entire event with guidance from our events point-person, Karen Epp, and it promises to be a great evening!  Go to our website’s Events page to find out more and to register.

One of our partner organizations, PAMANA is having their annual Sama Sama summer picnic Saturday, July 27, 11:00 am to 5:00 pm at Lake Farm Park, Shelter #3, 6330 Libby Road, Madison.  There will be food by Milwaukee’s Filipino food truck Meat on the Street and fun for the whole family.  There is no admission fee but they ask that you RSVP at PAMANAMadison.org so they can get an accurate count of attendees.

PAMANA is also having a Cultural Tasting Experience on Saturday, August 10th at 11:30 am at Meadowbrook Clubhouse, 801 Pleasant Valley Parkway in Waunakee.  This event will feature a delicious multi-course Filipino luncheon with traditional dishes like lumpia, Lechon, Kare Kare and more.   Tickets can be purchased at PAMANAMadison.org. Hope to see you there!

Borrower Story

Rosalina is a businesswoman, mother of three, and micro-loan recipient. She spends her days working in her piggery, sari-sari store, or her rice field. Rosalina is on her second loan with Wisconsin Microfinance after paying back the first in just six months, which she used to start the piggery, buy school supplies for her children, and repair the family home that was damaged in the 2013 earthquake. Rosalina is just one of our many incredible loanees who, when given a base of support, has created businesses and new futures entirely through their own inspirational volition.

New Board Members

Karen Epp – Karen is a Wisconsin-native who recently joined us, bringing years of event planning and client service experience to the organization. Her undergraduate research project at UW-La Crosse focused on the global economic empowerment of women so our work is particularly relevant to her. Karen is currently a client services associate at Edelman Financial Engines in Madison. She has already made an impact on the organization, working with our partners to plan the 2020 Gala and another upcoming event

Alex Hutton – Alex brings her passion for women’s issues, empowerment, and budgeting to the board. She is currently a Banker at Associated Bank and she will bring her financial savvy and great energy to our finance team.