SPBD is uniquely placed to respond to this disaster, with their community networks across Fiji giving them access to some of the hardest hit areas, enabling them to respond quickly and efficiently. SPBD cares deeply about its members and has demonstrated just how deep this commitment is through their hard work and outreach over the past few weeks. Children are out of school. Crops have been destroyed. Homes have been flattened. The people of Fiji need us to stand with them, long after this story has disappeared from the news cycle.
Based on the findings of a rapid needs-assessment conducted in the wake of Cyclone Winston by SPBD—reaching more than 85% of their members—2610 relief kits were distributed containing essential items like non-perishable foods, matches, soap, mosquito nets and cash. Cash gives the flexibility to purchase other essential items like medicines or baby food.”SPBD members were happy and overwhelmed when they received Relief Kits,” SPBD tells us.
The next step in the recovery process is providing members with Recovery Kits. These kits will include equipment to assist with clean up and basic repairs. SPBD will distribute these packs to communities in most urgent need of assistance.
UPDATE FROM THE FIELD
Former Good Return Field Support Officer Esther is currently working in Suva. She shared with us these updates from her visits to a local market:
“I spoke to a couple of the ladies I often see at the market, who are from Tailevu, up past Korovou I think. They’re also SPBD members, one lost her house completely and one lost her kitchen…They were selling cassava and avocados and a few other things, but told me that after this week they don’t think they’ll have anything to sell—the cassava will go moldy and other crops are destroyed. I hope they can get back on their feet quickly.”
“The market is much more bare this week—a lot of empty stalls—and even those who are there don’t have a lot to sell. The prices of a lot of fresh produce is going up too (e.g. from $1 to $2 for an avocado or long beans from $2-$4) affordable for us but it would hurt many…”
SPBD has shared with us the story of Akisi Bale. Before the cyclone, Akisi would travel to Suva to sell vegetables. She had just saved enough money to apply for a second loan to renovate her tin house when the cyclone hit. Here she is pictured standing beside the ruins of that house and her crops.
Akisi’s family is now living in a temporary shelter they built out of debris collected from their former home. Akisi is thankful that every member of her family survived, but she and her husband now face the daunting challenge of rebuilding their home and business while taking care of their four children.
We have received messages from our colleagues and friends in Fiji; they are touched by your generosity and care. They say vinaka vakalevu.
Deciding to jump is not taking action.
When it comes to gender inequality, we’ve seen talk but not enough action. So much so that last year, the gender pay gap in Australia actually increased. To affect change, we need to push the boundaries and start taking leaps towards a more equal world. To mark International Women’s Day 2016, Good Return and Clayton Utz invited Fabian Dattner, social entrepreneur and leadership expert, to speak at the Pushing Boundaries breakfast.
Fabian Dattner knows that the shift we need to see in women’s leadership is glacial. In a move to create a global collaboration of women leaders, Fabian is leading a world-first expedition to Antarctica later this year. In 2014, Fabian founded the Homeward Bound Project, a self-funded voyage to Antarctica which will see women in science from around the world receive world-class leadership and strategic implementation training to build their capacity to tackle the most pressing global challenges of our time. Though the project is 100% self funded, everything on the ship has been donated from around the world. Fabian says that along the way she has learned that people everywhere want to help women have a voice at the table.
“Don’t try and do it on your own… Women need to act together, that’s what we are wired to do.”
The project was inspired by a conversation in a stairwell in October 2014 during a Compass leadership session in Tasmania with women scientists from the Australian Antarctic Division in Hobart. Barbara, a penguin expert, talked about her experience surveying penguin populations over numerous visits to Antarctica. Snow is now falling in areas it should not fall, burying animal populations struggling to survive. She explained that every climate model they have, every prediction they have made is no longer useful. Then she tells Fabian that she has just had her funding cut and had a manager put above her: he had never been to Antarctica. “I care about women’s voices, I care about the power of women’s contribution for men and I am now listening to these scientists talk about the peril that is emerging and our serial inability to hear it,” Fabian said. “There is a joke about global climate summits, there’s two rooms, one where the work is done and one where the decisions are made. You can guess where most of the women are… You work out why are we stuck around making decisions that are about our legacy, about our home.”
As a world-renowned leadership expert, Fabian knows giving women a voice motivates the change we need to see. “Why we lead is not about individual achievement for most women. It’s about what we are creating together,” said Fabian. “[Women] know inherently that if the collective is more successful we are all more successful,” she said. “We know with microloans around the world that women repay money and they use it for the greater good. But we know it for corporations too; women have a legacy mindset, they’re more ethical with money, they excel at 12 out of the 16 longitudinal research leadership capabilities. It’s the same.” Despite this, women in Australia are still hugely underrepresented in leadership positions, with Fabian citing the example of the banking sector where there is not a single female CEO or chair, “Don’t tell me it’s a talent issue and don’t tell me it’s about selecting good people. Right now it’s about selecting the same people.”
“We know with microloans around the world that women repay money and they use it for the greater good.
“The attributes of the partnership between men and women are absolutely crucial but at the moment is not the attributes of men that are missing, it’s not the things that we are the same at that are missing, it is our differences that are missing and not valued.” Not valuing the attributes of women leaders can force women to adopt unnatural leadership styles, “This is not a phenomenon of gender, it is a phenomenon of structure.” Offering advice on what actions women in the workplace can take to redress this imbalance Fabian says, “Don’t try and do it on your own… Women need to act together, that’s what we are wired to do.”
And act together we must. To read more about Fabian’s expedition, visit the Homeward Bound Project and to find out about Fabian’s Compass Program, head to the Dattner Grant website. Compass Sydney starts June 2 & 3 JOIN COMPASS SYDNEY AND $400 WILL BE DONATED TO GOOD RETURN.
Invest in women living in poverty by funding a loan at loans.goodreturn.org.
Thanks to Clayton Utz, Fabian Dattner and everyone in attendance for their generosity. Proceeds from the event will go to women living in poverty in our region as Good Return does its part to empower women through microfinance and skills development.]]>
These numbers will worsen as work continues to reach members who remain unaccounted for.
Borrowers who have received loans funded by Good Return supporters are now dealing with damage or loss of their homes and the businesses they have worked so hard to build. While relief organisations and the Fijian Government rush to provide immediate help, members will need ongoing support to restore their homes and livelihoods.
Borrowers in Fiji need your help to recover. And you can provide direct assistance.
Good Return & SPBD are offering borrowers grants to rebuild their homes and livelihoods. We will send funds raised to SPBD to use in their recovery operations. The news we are receiving from our colleagues is devastating. Our partner on the ground is uniquely placed to provide efficient and effective care to those hit the hardest. Please do what you can to help them reach as many people as possible.
We ask you to join us in supporting the people of Fiji. Donate to our Cyclone Winston Appeal and show our neighbours we will stand with them as they rebuild their homes and their lives.
Should the funds received through this appeal exceed the amount required to meet the needs of members, Good Return will use excess funds to support our programs in Fiji. Our programs in Fiji promote financial inclusion and resilience through responsible microfinance and skills development.]]>
Good Return Board member Aaron Levine could be seen singing through the course in neon shorts and zinc, part of a brave ploy to increase donations. “My friends are generous but often with a catch,” he said. Aaron offered his supporters the chance to challenge him to a dare in exchange for a double donation. In 24 hours, Aaron smashed his fundraising target of $1500 raising $3645 in total.
The Good Return cheer squad was on the sideline to welcome home our runners, starting with Jamie Stewart who ran the 10km in under 37 minutes, putting him in the top 20 finishers overall.
Families from Hunters Hill joined Good Return for the 7km course, giving their kids the chance to run alongside Paralympic gold medalist Heath Francis. Mums and dads were outpaced by their kids who crossed the line so fast our official photographers have nothing to show but blurs of Good Return red!
Good Return CEO Guy Winship earned an enormous cheer from the crowd with a sprint finish, crossing the line with $6530 going to Good Return’s programs. Together the team raised over $17,000, making Saturday afternoon’s aches and pains worthwhile.
$17,000 can go a long way in the field, funding training and consumer protection work to give people living in poverty the chance to grow their incomes safely and effectively. We know that people living in poverty have the resourcefulness and resilience to build their own pathways out of poverty. You’ve given them the chance to learn how. Thank you for investing in Good.
There’s still time to support the Good Return team, visit sunrun2016.goodreturn.org
Salla Mankinen » Salla developed an app for our flagship program CAFE. Salla was based in the Cambodian Microfinance Association (CMA) office with our Good Return team. In December 2015 Salla travelled to Nepal to deliver training to our microfinance partners on their new app.
Bridget Martin » Bridget drove the development and implementation of our scholarship program pilot in Sintang, Indonesia. Using the Progress out of Poverty Index (PPI) Bridget and the team surveyed local households and awarded fifty children living in poverty with scholarships to enable them to finish high school.
Diana Tjoeng » Diana worked alongside our partner in Cambodia, LOLC. Diana conducted field visits and helped to coordinate workshops and conferences across Cambodia. Diana assisted in LOLC Smart Campaign Certification in July. Diana will be staying with us this year to work on our public awareness campaign with the National Bank of Cambodia.
Heather Beeston » Heather was based in Sintang, Indonesia with our partner CUKK. Heather worked with our Farmer Field School Program, helping the agribusiness co-op to better serve the needs of farmers. Heather also worked on monitoring and evaluation.
Catherine Sandow » Catherine worked with our partner in the Philippines, SECDEP. Catherine helped to streamline processes, assisting SECDEP by designing dashboards which help employees to better manage and analyse data. Catherine worked to improve SECDEP’s social performance through tracking, reporting and reviewing procedures.]]>
But it’s these very products and services that can help people living in poverty to save and build capital. We know that by helping people in Cambodia to understand their rights and options when it comes to financial services, we can help lift people out of poverty and avoid the traps of over indebtedness.
Good Return and World Education in partnership with the National Bank of Cambodia will launch the Tohs Niyeay Pi Luy (Let’s Talk Money) Campaign. The campaign is designed to encourage people across Cambodia to start talking about the way they use, manage and grow money. Good Return is excited to be part of this effort to empower financial consumers with the information and skills they need to thrive.
Why are we working with young people?
We believe young people can play a more active role in helping older members of the family to navigate financial products and services. It’s important for young people to understand their options and learn how to effectively and safely use financial products—like loans, savings accounts and money transfers—to improve their lives and the lives of their families. This campaign will reach out to young people with a series of public service messages on financial empowerment and consumer awareness.
The team recently conducted a workshop to collect ideas for this suite of video and audio materials. We want to make sure that the materials and messages we use are relevant, interesting and engaging. Who better to consult than the young people themselves! In the lead up to the workshop we ran a competition asking young people to “Tell, show or share with us what comes to you when you think about money and your family?” And we were amazed by the quality and creativity of the entries we received.
A shortlist of twenty entries was scored by a panel of expert judges. The winning stories will be used in the Tohs Niyeay Pi Luy (Let’s Talk Money) Campaign to be featured on Facebook, NBC website, radio and media. You can read the winning entries, as translated from Khmer to English, below.
We’d like to thank all the young people who participated in this competition for sharing their stories with us. Their experiences will help us to start an inter-generational conversation about how financial products and services can break the poverty cycle in Cambodia.
1st prize Choeun Channut
My name is Choeun Channut and I am a 12 years old boy living in Prey Thom village, Smaong Tboung commune, Kamchay Mea distict, Prey Veng province. I am a student in grade 7 at Prey Thom Lower Secondary School.
My unforgettable memory
In 2009, my family faced a serious difficulty. I was studying in grade 1 and my mother gave my 500 riels [15c AUD] to spend per day. Having thought how my family will be in one day in the future because my father would face health problem, in the morning I eat the remaining cooked rice or fried rice, then go to school. At school, I spend only 300 riels and the rest I save it. Sometime, my mother cooked food with only vegetable or having little meat. After came back from school, I looked after the sister and boiled medicine water for my father. At night, my brother taught me, and my father told us the stories and I noted that he was very skinny. One day, my father wanted to eat sweet so much as it was selling in front of our house. When I saw this, I took my saved money in my back pack 1000 riels to buy the sweet for him. He thanked me and touch my head with a pity face. At the evening, I give 3000 [$1.05 AUD] riels to my mother to buy seasoning and the remaining 2000 riels my father told me to keep to buy books, and pens.
Overcoming my family obstacles
This is a real story of my family in the past which is taken from a diary.
Before my family was poor and could earn money just for a day. Because of the difficulties, my brother stopped studying in order to work in Thailand. My father was a construction worker and my mother was a garment worker. They tried very hard to send me to school. Sometime, my mother got fainted in the factory and my father got arthralgia because he carried heavy things. One day, they did not have money and they forced themselves to steal chicken of other people. I felt so pity on them. My sister and my father got illness, did not have money, sold the rice field, and had debt. That time, my family got strong contempt. Then my family tried very hard again. As a result we got improvement because we had patient on every challenges.
The struggling is the direction toward money and family.
2nd prize Pove Sreynich
Pove Sreynich, 15 years old, female, grade 10 at Hun Sen Kamchay Mea High School
The journey of my sister life
Being born in a poor family, the life was very difficult so that my sister decided to migrate to Thailand in the hope that it would help improve her life. But everything did not happen as what we thought. My sister was cheated by the broker in the middle of the way and the broker took all her money so that she did not have any money to return home. My family decided to borrow money from other people to transfer to my sister in order to be able to come back home.
Having arrive home for a period of time, my sister moved to work in Kompongsam as a construction worker. The workplace was located in a forest and the living was difficult. She worked for a month and then come back home. After that, she went to work as potato pulling coolie in Ratanak Kiri province. The work was so hard and did not have time to rest. As a result my sister fell into sickness and then came back home.
She was alway sad and when she listened to a song tittle “In this world, who want to be poor”, the tear was falling down. I was pity on her very much, but I could not help her anything because I was too young. So, I could only cry silently when my sister was crying. This is a real story of my sister who have persisted for family.
3rd prize Sim Sovan
My name is Sim Sovan and I am a 15 year old boy. I live in Thluk veal village, Kror nhoung commune and I study in grade “8 A” at Hun Sen Kamchay Mea High School.
I have 3 siblings and I am the second child. In 2002, my father decided to go to work in Thailand, but when he just arrived Thailand for two days, my sister passed away and then he came back home with only a scarf around his neck. He carried my sister to bury behind the house. After my sister was buried already, my father got an accident by a motorbike. My mother took my father to hospital and at that time she did not have any money for the treatment. So she borrowed money from an organization to pay for my father’s treatment. My father was recovered, but did have money to pay back to the creditor. They sold some rice fields to take money to repay to the organization. My mother run a small business in the market, but it was not good as it lost the profit time by time until did not have just one hundred riels with her.]]>
Aaron has joined the Good Return board and decided to join us for the Sun Run, February 6. He has already raised $2585 but to get there, he has taken on a daring challenge…
“My friends are generous but often with a catch,” he said.
“Apparently, I’ll have to wear bright yellow zinc and shorts as a condition for an additional donation, and will also be belting out a song from Frozen mid-course.”
Aaron joins world champion Heath Francis and a team of Good Return supporters who are raising money for our programs by any means necessary!
“I don’t often ask things of my friends and colleagues, but I have no problem with a call to action to support Good Return and that makes training for the Sun Run a pleasure, despite all of the pain… Through lending to fulfill a dream to grow a business, or learning about how to wisely manage finances, Good Return really makes a differences to peoples’ lives.”
Show Aaron your support as sings his way to the finish line!
DONATE TO AARON »]]>
I am delighted to be joining Good Return as an Ambassador. I hope my show How Deep Is Your Love? Can help spread the word about development, microfinance and empowerment.
The show is really about how much we can learn from the so-called ‘poor’ of the planet. It uses humour and storytelling to shine a different light on old problems. For me, knowledge is a two-way street. The whole world needs to develop together. Skills development and technical knowledge transfer is critical but only one side of the process. The West can only help development where space is created for exchange to happen.
In a few weeks with Grameen I learnt so much about the realities of life, family and business for people using microfinance to improve their lives. I also learnt about the limits of what we can do, the complexities of development and the need for patience. I look forward to working with the wonderful team at Good Return and meeting the great people in its world.
Catch Mark in Brisbane January 29 & at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival March 31 through April 2:
Brisbane tickets: http://www.trybooking.com/175254 Jan 29
Melbourne tickets: http://www.trybooking.com/174975 31 Mar, 1 Apr, 2 Apr.
Read more on Mark’s work »]]>
Participating in the delicious democracy of Grilld’s Local Matters initiative, Good Return was voted by visitors to the Grilld restaurant on Willoughby Road as the preferred charity for the month of January. Each month, Grilld gives $500 to the local community through the program which enables customers to vote for one of three participating organisations.
The generous team at Grilld treated the Good Return staff to a team lunch at the restaurant where we were awarded our Local Matters cheque. Through the Local Matters initiative, the community has been given the chance to learn more about Good Return’s mission while enjoying the best burgers in town!
We’d like to thank Grilld for their ongoing support of our work (and pledge our ongoing support of their zucchini fries…)]]>
It was certainly a memorable Christmas party, filled with laughter and joy whilst achieving the perfect balance of gorging on delicious food and physical activity.