Earlier this year I was visiting a savings group and discussing with them their experiences and their desires for the future. In these settings it is not uncommon for savings group members to ask us for financial funding to help their group. This group was different. They shared with us the things they had been able to do.
One of their group members had taken a loan from a microfinance organization. Due to circumstances beyond his control he was unable to repay the loan by the scheduled due date. The microfinance organization had plans to come and take ownership of his home. This would have left him and his family without a place to live.
The savings group pooled their funds and together raised enough money to pay off his loan. He has since been able to repay the loan from the savings group. He and his family were able to stay in their home.
One of the group members made these comments to us. “We do not need money from you. Money is only a tool. What we need are ideas. You can bring us teaching and new ideas that will help us to be more effective in what we are doing. Ideas will be more valuable to us than money. When we have new information and ideas it will help us to better use the money we have.”
We are working hard to increase the inventory of teaching materials that we have available to the savings groups. We are constantly in the process of writing new materials and then having those materials translated into the national languages of the savings group participants.
The first booklet that each new savings group uses is The House of Principles which has been produced by the Chalmers Center for Economic Development. When they complete that study on group formation and dynamics they are ready for teaching materials that have been produced by Open Hands.
We have a booklet titled Family Finances for God’s Children. This booklet helps with budgeting and managing family household finances. Many participants have found this booklet to be helpful to them. This booklet is currently being taught in savings groups in Kenya. It is in the process of being translated into both Spanish and Haitian Creole.
We are also in the process of writing a series of booklets designed to help microbusinesses to be more successful. The first booklet in the series is titled Planning a Business. It assists the participants with getting a business idea and developing a plan to start a successful business. This booklet has been translated into Haitian Creole and is being used in savings groups in Haiti. We have had many positive comments and good feedback from this booklet.
Each of our Open Hands booklets rely heavily on Scripture. We are committed to a Bible-based curriculum that utilizes the Word of God to assist participants with the stewardship of their finances and businesses. The salvation message and call to a personal commitment to Christ is included in each booklet.
Our curriculum is also being used by other organizations in many countries around the world. It is encouraging to receive reports from many places about how the curriculum has been a blessing to many people.