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Published By Drew Meyers on June 10, 2013
In our quest to put a face to the microfinance industry and organize it into local communities, we’re going to start profiling the individuals that work in it. Our first one is with Helen Lyttelton. Here’s a little bit more about her…
1) What do you do?
I’m volunteer Programme Manager for Fundación En Vía, a microfinance non-profit based in Oaxaca, Mexico.
2) Why do you do what you do?
I’m passionate about community development and, after doing some research online, I contacted En Vía about volunteering for them. They are a very special non-profit as they give out interest-free microloans. There are about 250 women borrowers in the programme, and En Vía has had an incredibly positive impact on their lives. En Via have also introduced free educational programmes – English classes, business classes, marketing, health, etc. En Via is also quite unique as they combine microfinance with sustainable tourism – 86% of the loans are funded from tours we run twice-weekly. We take tourists to meet our borrowers and they love this form of cultural exchange.
3) What are you most excited about right now?
Right now I’m super excited about our campaign! We are running a campaign to buy a van. As tours are essential to the sustainability of our organisation, we want to buy a van. Currently, 20% of our expenses go towards renting a van. If we own a van, we will be able to give out over 100 more loans every year. The campaign kicked off last Wednesday and already we have raised over $7000 of the needed $25000 thanks to our extraordinary supporters. Here is the link: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/a-van-to-empower-women
4) What’s next for you?
Right now, I love Oaxaxa and I plan to stay here for as long as possible! I hope to continue volunteering for En Vía as I’m learning so much from the women we work with.
5) What’s a cause you’re passionate about and why?
In addition to my interest in community development for women, I’m passionate about animals and the environment. In New Zealand, my home country, I volunteered for a wonderful organisation called Project Jonah, who rescue stranded whales (New Zealand has the highest rate of whale strandings in the world). I think it’s really important to volunteer and give something back to the community.
You can find Helen and other nearby microfinance supporters via Oh Hey World.
If you work or volunteer in the industry and would like to get profiled, please sign up for an Oh Hey World account — then send me an email at drew at ohheyworld dot com.