Cover Story: Small Loans, Big Picture
Lucy Abrasado's loan application isn't likely to pass across a Wall Street banker's desk anytime soon. Not that financial heavyweights would necessarily turn a nose up at the application to expand a pig farm—but the $250 request is probably too small for major underwriting.
That's why Abrasado's picture instead appears on literature from World Vision Micro, the Federal Way, Wash.-based fundraising program for Christian humanitarian nonprofit World Vision's microlending services.
World Vision Micro allows U.S. donors to, in essence, underwrite farm expansion for the grinning resident of the Philippines or other projects for the poor in developing economies. (In the brochure, she stands amid a sunny backdrop of pine trees, rather than sitting in a banker's office.)
The piggery expansion is just one of the loans World Vision Micro is seeking to fund through U.S. donations. Through online marketing efforts started in September 2009 and stepped up via an integrated print campaign introduced in March 2011, World Vision Micro has raised $1.2 million from 6,500 donors to lend to entrepreneurs. Plus, the software World Vision purchased from Swiss-based GMC Software Technology to start the print marketing effort is expected to create efficiencies that will save the organization $1 million a year. In six months, the tool's already saved the nonprofit hundreds of thousands of dollars—paying off its purchase price.
And, partly thanks to the software's as-yet-untapped capabilities, many more marketing initiatives may soon begin.
In the meantime, Abrasado's grin livens up the loan-requesting literature that adheres to World Vision's mission, "Building a better world for children," rather than building up the bottom line for a fat cat on Wall Street. Instead of monetary assets, the brochure notes that Abrasado has three children, and in lieu of an extensive business plan, three short paragraphs explain her needs.