Colombia

  • Helene Dudley posted an article
    RPCV micro-loan program partners with Community Fund to disburse grants to Colombia. see more

    By: Helene Dudley (Colombia 1968-70, Slovakia 1997-99)

    In July 2016, The Colombia Project - TCP Global became a NPCA Community Fund beneficiary. In September of last year, the first disbursement of funds for TCP Global micro-loans was allocated to the Colombia-based NGO, PROEDUPAZ, in Suan. While TCP Global has funded over $500,000 in loans in 5 countries, this new program in Suan is the first program established with the assistance of a Peace Corps Response Volunteer, Will Osolinsky (pictured below with PROEDUPAZ President, Alejo Narvaez and prospective loan recipients). 

    In only four months, $1,500 has been invested twice resulting in repayments that lead to $3,000 of more new loans. Loans in Suan average $176 and support cottage industry, sales, animal husbandry and similar projects.

    Although Will has completed his assignment in Suan, he remains in contact with PROEDUPAZ to assist TCP Global in the mentoring process.

    If Suan continues to yield good results, TCP Global will authorize additional fund transfers until the permanent loan pool is adequate to meet the micro-loan needs of the community. With continued success, PROEDUPAZ will earn funds, which they can use for community service projects. Both TCP Global and PROEDUPAZ are volunteer organizations providing their services at no cost, thus allowing for 100% of donations to be distributed as micro-loans. 

    TCP Global loans are best suited for small and remote communities. According to information shared at the 2014 Micro Credit Summit in Mexico, this is a niche that is currently underserved by major micro-finance institutions, which find them cost-prohibitive to serve.  Since the TCP Global model invites existing grassroots organizations to run loan programs in their own communities, there are no travel costs, and result in better loan decisions since they are made by people who know the community well.  Loan recipients are invited to serve on the board, ensuring community ownership that enables loan programs to thrive despite leadership changes in the host organization.  

    For more information, contact helenedudley@yahoo.com

    PROEDUPAZ leaders Alejo and Delvis maintain the folders on each loan recipient and oversee the screening, funding and collections on all loans.

    TCP Global met with Colombia Peace Corps staff and trainees in October, 2016 to explain how to bring micro-loans to additional Peace Corps sites.

    This mother and her daughter completed a micro-entrepreneur workshop coordinated by PROEDUPAZ.

    Click here to donate to TCP Global and other projects led by the Peace Corps community. 

  • Helene Dudley posted an article
    Rotarians and RPCVs combine their synergies for the greater good. see more

    By: Helene Dudley (Colombia 1968-70, Slovakia 1997-99)

    Peace Corps and Rotary have a longstanding history individually as well as together. The two communities have compatible values, compatible interests, and compatible approaches to society’s problems. I am one of thousands of Americans with membership in both. I was introduced to Rotary through my work with The Colombia Project, a micro-loan program started by Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs).  After receiving several grants and presenting to the Rotary Club of Coconut Grove, Florida it occurred to me that I should become a member. Soon two more RPCVs working with The Colombia Project joined, followed by a loan administrator in Colombia and then a former Peace Corps Korea language teacher – all because the Coconut Grove Rotary Club supported an RPCV micro-loan program.  As an RPCV and Rotarian, I am amazed at the synergies that exist between these two groups.

    In 2014, Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet, who comes from a family of Rotarians, signed two collaborative agreements with Rotary – for pilot projects in the Philippines, Thailand and Togo and to encourage Rotary Clubs to support the Peace Corps partnership program (PCPP).  

    Subsequent to those agreements, over 30 Rotary Clubs from hometowns of Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) serving in Costa Rica have partnered with Costa Rica Rotary Clubs in the Give-A-Book literacy project to provide libraries for schools and communities served by PCVs.  Rotarians traveled to Costa Rica to personally present books.  Upon returning home, PCVs made presentations to the sponsoring Rotary clubs. In addition to the books, the Peace Corps-Rotary alliance in Costa Rica organizes other humanitarian projects such as an eye clinic organized by two PCVs for March 2017 with Rotarian eye doctors participating from Rotary Clubs in Florida, Indiana, and California.

    Collaboration with currently serving Volunteers is off to a good start but even better opportunities exist for Rotary-RPCV collaborations like those with the Denver Rotary Club’s cook stove research in Vanuatu, girls’ education in Senegal and the Coal Creek, Colorado Rotary Club’s water projects in Panama. The full potential for collaborations between Rotary and RPCVs through the NPCA remains largely untapped but ultimately should be even more attractive to Rotarians in providing RPCV partners with proven track records.

    One Rotary supported RPCV program, The Colombia Project – TCP Global, builds zero overhead, sustainable micro-loan programs in five countries to date. By partnering with organizations already working effectively at the grassroots level, virtually no overhead is required to manage 30-45 open loans.

    Just as the Rotary-Peace Corps Partnership invites Rotary Clubs to support PCPP working with PCVs, an expansion of this collaboration into the Peace Corps community could provide financial support for current and future projects vetted through the National Peace Corps Association's Community Fund such as TCP Global micro-loans, Water Charity, The Village Link, and other projects that involve Rotary in some, but not all implementation sites. Rotarian and RPCV hybrids are coming together to create an affiliate group, so be sure to let us know if you are a Rotarian.

     

    In 2017, there are two unique opportunities to strengthen ties between Rotary and the Peace Corps community. RPCV Rotarians are encouraged to visit the Peace Corps booth at the Rotary International Convention in Atlanta, GA this June 2017.  All Rotarians and members of the Peace Corps community are also encouraged to attend Peace Corps Connect annual conference in Denver, CO this August 2017.


    The Peace Corps Community and the Rotarian Community each do a tremendous amount of good in the world. Since projects can have far greater impact when we collaborate with others, imagine what could be accomplished if the two organizations joined forces.  

  • David A Miron posted an article
    Bernadette and David Miron are long term champions of the Peace Corps community. see more

    By Bernadette & David Miron (Colombia 1963-1965)

    As Returned  Peace Corps Volunteers, we feel bound by the 3rd Goal “to promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.” This 55th anniversary of the Peace Corps afforded us an opportunity to act, in a larger way, on our pledge. The result was the "Third Goal International Film Festival Celebrating 55 Years of the Peace Corps."  

     

    Bernadette thought that organizing and producing the festival could rejuvenate the First Coast Returned Peace Corps Volunteer group’s membership, especially by involving younger members. But most of all, she said, a festival could “push back against the times we live in where the ‘other’ is seen as the enemy; when we are encouraged to build walls between countries, keep the Muslims out, live in fear of the ‘other’. We wanted the festival activities to display the humanity of the ‘other.’"  A 22-person First Coast committee organized a menu, selected films, chose a venue and raised funds. Their budget was over $5,000, including a $500 donation from NPCA.

     

    The contributions of our larger Peace Corps Community often go without notice, but our collective impact is great. We value NPCA, and as Shriver Circle members, we contribute financially to help further the mission. As attendees at past Peace Corps Connect conferences in Nashville & Berkeley, we were nurtured by the legacy of 10 Years of RPCV Film Festivals in Columbia, Missouri and San Francisco. As advocates for the Peace Corps, we work hard with our Representatives. This year, we not only lost Congressman Sam Farr, RPCV Colombia, but Congressman Ander Crenshaw, our local Representative for the Jacksonville area, and Co-Chair with Congressman Farr and others of the Congressional Peace Corps Caucus. So we start again. Wish us luck, Peace Corps needs us all.

    Pictured above from left to right is Rosemary Calhoon Takacs (RPCV Paraguay, Peace Corps Response Guatemala), Bernadette Miron, Scott McLucas, Underwriter of the Festival, and Ethiopian dancer, Mimi Kasha, at the “Third Goal International Film Festival Celebrating 55 Years of the Peace Corps." 

    Join Bernadette and David in strengthening our advocacy efforts today. 

  • Amanda Silva posted an article
    NPCA supports community-driven projects of impact through the Community Fund see more

    National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) is proud to support community-driven projects of impact through the Community Fund. NPCA supports grassroots initiatives led by members of the Peace Corps community that have a lasting and sustainable impact. One of our newest initiatives is supporting the continuation of the micro-loan programs facilitated by The Colombia Project Global (TCP Global). 

    Where it all began

    In 2000, Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of South Florida (RPCVSF) established The Colombia Project (TCP), a committee that was created in response to the drastic internal displacement rates in Colombia. Social workers, attorneys, leaders of the displaced community and Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) gathered at a meeting in Bogota, Colombia and decided the most effective solution was to provide resources to people ready to rebuild their lives through a sustainable micro-loan program.

    The mission of TCP is two-fold: assist marginalized entrepreneurs with micro-loans and strengthen the grassroots organizations that effectively serve marginalized communities.

    In Colombia, as in much of the developing world, affordable loans for marginalized entrepreneurs are available only from the daily lenders who charged up to 10% per day and often used harsh collection measures. The larger micro-finance institutions tended to focus on population centers where it is easier to scale their operations. The TCP model, however, is created for small and remote communities where the lending gap is greatest. 

    For TCP loan recipients, a marginal increase in family income means the difference between young adults continuing their studies and dropping out to help feed the family. Those who successfully repay several TCP loans often qualify for bank loans for their business or for constructing their own homes. In addition to loan recipients, TCP partners used earnings to benefit the communities where they work. Projects included the first latrine for the handicapped in Aguadas, a facility for the handicapped in Cartago, repairing homes for the poorest residents of Puerto Tejada, establishing a sewing cooperative and completing a community center in La Victoria. 

    "I no longer look at myself as a displaced person but as an entrepreneur"

    Gloria Beatriz Barliza Epiayu, Woman Entrepreneur of the year for the Guajira Region of Colombia 2011

    Moving onto the next phase

    In 2014, The Colombia Project became independent of RPCVSF, and evolved in to TCP Global. In 2015, TCP Global opened new programs in Niger, Guatemala and Peru with one hundred percent loan repayment in the first 16 months. In this next phase, TCP Global has seeded $10,000 from the U.S. and supported $21,000 in loans to 100 recipients and earned its current partners $5,000 to date.

    TCP Global partners have found that increasing the income of their clients provides each a hand up to reach a better standard of living. These loans help keep children in school, provide healthier diets, access to clean drinking water and protection of the environment. Women entrepreneurs are often empowered by their success and progress to become community leaders. 

    TCP is a results-oriented model that keeps the focus on the loan recipient. If they do well, the organizations that administer the loans are compensated for their good results.  The first allocation is typically $1500. Once that has been invested twice with at least a 95% repayment rate, additional allocations are sent until the permanent loan pool is sufficient to meet the needs of the community.

    NPCA's Community Fund is currently supporting a new program that will open in the Philippines and in a Colombian community where there is a Peace Corps Response Volunteer. These programs are projected to need up to $12,000 each over the next 4 years.

    Since funds are released in $1500 increments or less, with a promise to send more if those funds are invested successfully, the risk is small. The repayment rate for loans given since 2007 exceeds 95%. TCP’s oldest site, in Genova has invested each donated dollar eight times in nine years. That is the level of success NPCA and TCP Global hope to continue globally as this program expands with the help of the Community Fund.

    To donate to Community Fund projects like TCP Global's Micro-loan program, visit our campaigns page today!