Breaking the Cycle One Loan at a Time



In 2010, Willow Creek began a microfinance program with a Kitchen Garden Loan Program intended to move from food donations and toward self-sustainability. The program, funded by Willow Creek members, concentrates on providing loans to individuals who are HIV positive, individuals who are responsible for caring for someone who is HIV positive, or caring for orphans.

The money is sent to loan groups in the Willow’s global partner churches, and a loan officer from the local church monitors the funds. The church is then responsible for choosing the loan recipients.

“The loans are a way to give a person or family the chance to get out of the cycle of poverty and begin to better their circumstances,” said Scott Pederson, a staff member with Willow’s global ministry. “One other big element is the issue of dignity—when a person has the opportunity to provide for her/his family, it builds their dignity and is a new way of building hope.”

One of its recipients is a 51-year-old woman named Peggie Chipulu, living in Samfya, Zambia, a small town in the province of Luapula. In 2003, her husband died from complications of HIV/AIDS. Peggie was later diagnosed as HIV positive, and antiretroviral medication and hospital bills left her bankrupt.

In 2009, one of Willow’s local church partners in Samfya had chosen Peggie to receive a loan through the microloan program. The loan money was used to help her start a garden, which in turn produced 250 Zambian Kwacha (ZK) —the equivalent of $48. She was able to pay back her first loan and qualify for a second loan of 600ZK ($115), which she used for farming. She was able to produce 25 bags of crops and by selling 20 of those bags, she raised 1,300ZK ($250). By investing this money in a clothing business, she was able to own and operate her own store. Because of the microloan program, Peggy is able to provide financial support for three orphans and make improvements to her home.

Despite her illness, she has remained active in her church, serving as a deaconess and in the choir.

“I never lost hope; I trusted God to heal me,” said Peggy. “HIV is not a death sentence; it is a disease like asthma and diabetes. Treating it is a matter of knowing what to do or not to and adhering to that.”

For many, the microloan program is the only opportunity for financial independence because the individuals have little to no collateral and many of the countries do not have loan providers.

“When we see the successful results and the stories of how a family went from extreme poverty to the ability to provide for their own, and their new pride in doing so, it is a wonderful thing,” said Scott.


Category : Global Connections


Please let me know what would be the minimum individual contribution for the program.

How can we contribute specifically to this program?

Antje and Alex,
That is a great question! Connecting with our Global Ministries’ Field Director, Mark Haugen,, would be the best way to learn more details and find out how to contribute to this specifically.

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