Making a Difference – Nest

I tried to think of some clever, pithy way to start this post, but truly, how could I write anything more powerful than this…

My name is Specioza Mukobwuteta Brown. I am from Rwanda. In 1959, my country experienced a civil war (genocide) and my parents ran away into exile in Tanzania. I was brought up in Tanzania. This is where I went to school. I cam back to my original home in 2003 after Rwanda was liberated from genocide by RPF…  I am seeking a Nest loan for the growth of my business and also I need a market for my products. I started my craft business in 2004 working with women’s groups in handcrafts…. Nest loan will not only help me grow my business, but though the loan, Nest will provide women survivors of genocide and war with the tools and resources to move from crisis and poverty into stability and self-sufficiency.

Women in developing countries around the world are often among the poorest of the poor.  Microfinance organizations have had great success in providing small loans to assist these women in overcoming poverty, and gain independence.  But microloans must be paid back in cash, which can sometimes create a cycle of debt, as new loans are used to pay off the balance of earlier ones.  The loan recipients must also find a market for their wares in time to earn enough to pay off the loans.  This where Nest comes in…

To address some of these limitations to microfinance, Nest has developed a new way to assist women; we call it “microbarter.” We provide women, or cooperatives of women, with loans that allow them to purchase the supplies, training, bazaar space or raw materials needed to make their crafts. However, rather than requiring repayment in cash, we encourage women to repay their loans in product, which we would market and sell in the United States.

And such beautiful products too!  There is something very special about knowing the story behind each item, and although the emphasis is more on clothing and accessories, there are still a large number of items for the home. Nest also offers many great eco-friendly items by domestic (U.S.) designers, who donate a portion of their sales to provide additional loans through Nest.  They often donate time as mentors to loan recipients as well, giving advice on business practices, marketing and design.

With artisans based in countries all the way from Guatemala to Togo, Nest is having an impact on lives around the world.  Care to join them?

One Response to “Making a Difference – Nest”

  1. Morgan G Says:

    Fantastic work by Nest and these wonderful women. Like so many other folks limiting their purchases out of necessity or simply desire to reduce their resource use, I am really striving to buy functional products with meaning – these certainly fit the bill. Thanks for sharing, Rachel.

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