endPoverty: Supporting Entrepreneurs Through Microloans

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SEATTLE, Washington — endPoverty is an organization that aims to help develop thousands of small businesses by providing microloans. Maintaining its organizational values, the nonprofit works to help small businesses learn more about economic development and achieving sustainability. endPoverty also works with local partners to provide support on the ground. Since it was established, the organization has provided more than $25 million to small businesses in 37 countries. The Borgen Project interviewed endPoverty Communications Coordinator Kagwe Maina about how endPoverty is supporting entrepreneurs through microloans in Uganda, Cameroon, Zambia, India, Bangladesh, Guatemala and the Philippines.

The Focus of endPoverty

As the first U.N. 2030 Sustainable Development Goal hopes to end poverty, many organizations have engaged in microfinance loans to help keep communities employed during COVID-19. Currently, nearly 736 million people are living on less than $1.90 every day. endPoverty wishes to focus on providing employment to thousands of people unemployed during COVID-19.

The first step of endPoverty’s initiative involves endPoverty and its partners talking with aspiring entrepreneurs before establishing microloans or business training. In the interview, Maina told The Borgen Project that endPoverty has “a portfolio of about 409,000 entrepreneurs across these countries” as the organization relies “on these grassroots[s]organizations to be able to carry out the support” for entrepreneurs.

endPoverty and Partner Organizations

As the organization strongly encourages entrepreneurship along with the support of local resources, endPoverty wishes to encourage people living below the poverty line to work toward making a sustainable living through employment and entrepreneurship. The organization engages with nonprofit representatives in nine countries, ranging from Bangladesh, Cameroon, the Philippines, Guatemala, Uganda, India and Zambia. Each of the 10 indigenous organizations in the endPoverty Implementing Partners (IP) Network help manage the microloan, mentoring or coaching programs for aspiring entrepreneurs with lessons from experienced professionals.

Maina explained to The Borgen Project that endPoverty started a HARVEST program with the Christian Service Society (CSS) in Bangladesh that focuses on empowering women and supporting “an additional 86,580 entrepreneurs in five years” by providing evaluations with the women entrepreneurs approximately every six months. Additionally, endPoverty partners with organizations ranging from the Christian Action for Empowering Church and Community (CAFECC) in Uganda to the Christian Empowerment Microfinance organization in Zambia to work with leaders and entrepreneurs.

endPoverty’s COVID-19 response

According to Maina, endPoverty has raised more than “$600,000 for the COVID-19 response” in order to “save 1,200 jobs” that will “support 6,000 family members” through nearly 180,000 distributed loans during COVID-19. Maina described how loan repayment rates fell to 0% in April 2020 before coming back to 65-70% repayment rates in August 2020 after 100,000 loans were distributed.

In addition to providing microloans, endPoverty partnered with CSS Bangladesh to “distribute food and hygiene health packages to about 15,000 families” across Bangladesh, Uganda, Zambia, Cameroon, India and Guatemala during COVID-19. Moreover, endPoverty was also able to redistribute more than 4,200 masks donated by the Creekside Church in California to endPoverty programs in Guatemala, Cameroon, Zambia and the Philippines.

Kua Ventures and endPoverty

“More than 1.7 million Kenyans lost their jobs in the first three months of the pandemic.” To address this problem, Kua Ventures was launched in 2020 to encourage coaching and providing microloans to Kenyan faith-based entrepreneurs. One of the three main roles of Kua Ventures is to invest between $10,000 and $100,000 in Kenyan enterprises with an indicative $100,000 to $500,000 of revenue in order to amplify their impact. Kua Ventures helps provide experienced entrepreneurs with coaching and an organization partner search that creates durable change, such as supporting entrepreneurs through microloans.

One Kua Ventures initiative provides a $5,000 donation, which can help provide entrepreneur coaching from business leaders, team development and other initiatives for one year. Faith is at the core of endPoverty and Kua Ventures as both organizations wish to help impact faith-based entrepreneurs that help surrounding communities.

The organization has raised $91,458.53 of a goal of $220,000 as of June 2021. Maina explained how Kua Ventures hopes to expand small businesses to larger businesses by investing “our time, our expertise and our capital” into established businesses that have “shown revenue over those three years” as a strategy to support entrepreneurs.

On November 12, 2020, endPoverty Executive Director, Peter Fry spoke to Faith Collides to speak about the “Good Samaritan Fund.” It has the potential to help small businesses and surrounding communities in receiving necessary funding during COVID-19 in countries ranging from Guatemala to Bangladesh.

A Look Ahead

Despite the challenges of COVID-19, endPoverty is making it so that every $1 loaned to entrepreneurs results in $13 of value. With the unemployment rate in Kenya increasing from 2.6% in 2019 to 2.98% in 2020, endPoverty hopes to increase employment rates among multiple demographics and expand business loan strategies to other countries. New and established businesses have remained open through endPoverty and Kua Ventures COVID-19 support. endPoverty continues to empower aspiring individuals and communities by supporting entrepreneurs through microloans.

Evan Winslow
Photo: Unsplash

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