This week I depart for South America. Specifically, I will visit the cities of Lima, Iquitos, and Cuzco in the Republic of Peru. The origins of this trip began from what was a casual lunch time conversation last November.
My friend and fellow Rotarian Todd Garrett was telling me of a micro lending enterprise he created in Iquitos a few years back. Todd, an entrepreneur in Charleston, SC, runs the enterprise from afar, making 2-3 in-person visits each year. I was instantly fascinated, and peppered him with so many questions through lunch that he barely had the time to choke down his sandwich.
For those that are unfamiliar, micro lending is just as it sounds the process of providing micro loans (as little as $100) to aid entrepreneurs in creating micro enterprises in developing countries around the globe. Pioneered by Muhammad Yunus of Grameen Bank, this form of financing has gained popularity and critical acclaim around the world.
An entrepreneur and free-market champion myself, micro lending is especially intriguing and fascinating to me. It is my belief that the individual and society gain dramatically more when a man is taught to fish rather than simply feed a fish. The power of self reliance should not be underestimated. Micro lending provides start-up capital to those who would otherwise be considered un-credit worthy.
This excursion to Peru will be a fact-finding mission of the highest degree. I am going to shadow Todd for a full week, interacting and engaging with his team, his credit recipients (customers), and government officials. It will be a fascinating and enlightening week abroad. For the little I know, it is my hope that micro lending can be a critical tool in aiding those in need around the world.
For those that are interested, I will publish a full report of my findings (with pictures) on the subject of micro credit upon my return. Until then, ya me despido (it’s time to say goodbye).