Impact Investing

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“Impact investing” was a new phrase to me until I saw a piece on YouTube. The term refers to microfunding 1microfinancing: loaning very small amounts of money to individuals to help solve economic and social problems.

Microfinancing is a market of about 100 billion dollars today, serving roughly 100 million people by giving loans of 50 or 100 dollars each, mostly to the poor and mostly to women. One example is the Acumen Fund, which invests in entrepreneurs in India, Pakistan and East Africa, through loans to people who make less than four dollars a day. At the time I was watching, the Acumen Fund had made 192 loans, 100 of which already had been paid back. For example, one recipient is Husk, in Behar, India. It creates energy from rice hulls. About three million dollars, total, has gone into Husk power throughout India, half of it in grants and subsidies.

The Acumen Fund is financed mostly philanthropically, and its primary goal is that of social impact. They hope to grow from their current 50 million dollars to 250 million dollars invested, in order to touch 100 million lives. Their goal is to “build this sector and build new business models to serve the poor.”

Impact investing sounds like an exciting practice that can bring the best of philanthropy, of government and of business together to serve the poor. What a productive “Jesus thing” to do!

Your partner in ministry,

Betsy Schwarzentraub

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A Reminder from the Birds

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These past months the wild birds have been everywhere, first seeking whatever they could to build their nests. When much of the U.S. was still battling snowstorms, Northern California began to see spring. Thankfully we’ve had enough rain this year to cancel the current year’s (although not long-term) drought. Mornings have been filled with birdsong In the Sierra foothills, and through the day the soon-to-be avian parents picked up bits of hay, sticks, goose fluff, our horses’ hair strands, and even some hay-bale twine to build their nests.

The sparrows in our barn built one new nest and reinforced two from last year, and laid their eggs. In one stall the babies hatched and matured to the flying stage. The five babies formed an excited flying circus along with their mom and dad, as we fed and tended the horse beneath them. Under the eaves of our home, one nest is full of babies alSwallow 3most ready to fly. We’ve been able to see them perched on the string of lights in front of their nest, as the parents hurriedly fly back and forth to feed them.

All their activity reminds me of Jesus’ words in Luke 12 and Matthew 6, where he notes how God feeds and cares for the birds of the air. Like those bird parents, we are to nurture the young in each season, but not be consumed by worry. We are all precious and valued by God at every point in the rhythm of life. The trilling birdsong each morning is a lovely reminder of how we need to go to work providing for one another each day, but also to trust in God, Who sustains us through it all.

Your partner in ministry,

Betsy Schwarzentraub