"Before forming Lending Promise, I sought routes to become personally involved in microcredit," said Meg North Taylor, founder and volunteer executive director, who has financed much of the organization's work.
"Many groups were processing from $5 million to $2 billion in microloans per year and didn't have practical ways to engage individual contributors like me.
I wanted to make a significant impact on poor families, learn about their lives and what they look like, and maybe meet them," said Taylor
, whose organization has operated on less than $5,000 to date.
The women who need sponsors include, among others, a sister who is paying for school for her
brother who is recovering from a head injury; a woman who is putting her
two sisters through school; a mother who was divorced against her
will and wants to educate her
children; a woman who is paying off her
late father's medical debts while supporting her
sister, brother, mother and aunt; and a mother who is a Dalit, which in Nepal is an "untouchable," without a caste.
To learn more about the women, see "Sponsor a Woman."
The loans and services that Lending Promise
provides are to women in Nepal, the world's fifth poorest nation.
Nepal is still recovering from a 10-year civil war that ended last year, resulting in an estimated 13,000 deaths and a decline in tourism, which is a major revenue source.
hopes to expand programs to India in 2008 and to other countries in the future.
Founded by Meg North Taylor
, of San Jose, the new organization offers microcredit to women whose household income is often less than one dollar per day.
At the same time, Lending Promise
enables fortunate people to further the women's financial independence by sponsoring a village or a woman.
Microcredit comprises tiny loans - often less than $25 per person - to people too poor to qualify for traditional financing.
A loan goes to a group of co-signers, typically women.
Although each one forms her
own business such as a snack shop, farm, tour guide or handicrafts business, the women repay the loans as a group.
Later, the groups often pool savings, making loans themselves to members who expand their businesses, Taylor
, who traveled there in March, met over 75 mothers whose homes are without electricity or running water.
"I asked children what they want to be when they grow up," she
Meg North Taylor, founder and president
of San Jose, Calif., has been a public relations professional and community volunteer for 15 years.
She formed Lending Promise in 2006 to give loans to poor mothers so they can earn income to ensure better futures for their children.
In addition to her work at Lending Promise, Taylor works in analyst relations for a global high tech company.
PR expertise, she
aims to increase awareness of the benefits of microcredit.