PEER ServantsQuarterly

Partnering for EconomPartnering for Economic Empowerment and Renewal
Transforming Lives
Investor Edition  June 2009 
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In This Issue
From Manila to Mamelodi
Transformation Tracker
Entrepreneur in Focus
Strengths of the Materially Poor
President's Update
Quick Links

PEER Servants Logo - Investor Panel

 July 24-26
Gordon College
 2009 Walk for Economic Empowerment
Saturday, September 26
Boston, DC/Baltimore, Columbus (OH), Charlotte
Prayer Requests
Praise for 10 Years of Successful Moldovan Microfinance
Thanks for our Wonderful Volunteers 
for the Materially and Spiritually Poor
Welcome to PEER Servants Quarterly News!  We thank God for your investment in us through your prayers and financial support.  We hope this provides you with a fresh, succinct update of the return on your investment!
With warm regards,
The PEER Servants Communications Team

10 Years of Moldovan Microfinance!  
The First Christmas (Latin America)Any of you who have been around PEER Servants probably recognize the picture to the right.  It's Vasile Popan, Moldovan (and now world famous) sausage maker.  Vasile and his wife, Olga, were unemployed not that many years ago.  Today they own a sausage company that has created employment for 20+ individuals, provided sausage donations to orphanages, and established a means through which the Moldovan church has been strengthened.
Invest Credit, PEER Servants microfinance partner in Moldova, is the microfinance institution that helped Vasile's dream become a reality.  These last few weeks have been ones of celebration at Invest Credit as they mark ten years of excellent service to the materially poor of Moldova.  What started with just a few loans worth a few hundred dollars in a small Moldovan village in 1999 now has branches in the central, southern, and northern parts of the country and has made over 1,500 loans worth over $2,000,000!  The overall operation has been profitable for almost two years now and remains so even in these economically challenging times.  Many of Invest Credit's clients have done exceptionally well and created a means to strengthen the Moldovan church and society.
While God is ultimately to credit for the results, He worked through three very visionary, dedicated, and gifted brothers in Christ.
Ilie Coada, Invest Credit FounderPastor Ilie Coada was the founder of what is now Invest Credit.  A pastor in a small Moldovan village, he saw the potential of Christian microfinance empowering the Moldovan church long before others caught on.  Pastor Coada has been an Invest Credit board member since its inception.
Ghena Russu showing Invest Credit growthGhena Russu, Invest Credit Managing Director, initially came to the organization as a university intern.  It was clear early on that Ghena was the right man to lead Invest Credit.  A young man of exceptional vision, dedication, and intellect, Ghena could have accepted one of dozens of positions offered to him over the years that offered multiples of what he was receiving in his Invest Credit salary.  He and his wife, Alina, made painful sacrifices to see Invest Credit get to the place it is today. 
Valeriu Ghiletchi, Board ChairmanValeriu Ghiletchi, Invest Credit Board Chairman, has also been key to the organization's success.  The former Bishop of the Moldovan Baptist Union and now member of Moldovan Parliament knows the needs of the Moldovan church and society and appreciates the critical role an organization like Invest Credit can play in meeting the needs of materially poor Moldovans. 
Invest Credit's international partners now stretch far beyond PEER Servants, its first partner.  They have all been used by God to strengthen the organization in ways that PEER Servants never could have.  And while Invest Credit's story is certainly one that should lead all of us to thank and praise God for what he has done, there were many times in the first ten years that the challenges seemed far too great.  Even now, the Moldovan economy has been severely impacted by the world recession, and Invest Credit's clients are finding it more difficult to repay their loans.  We need to pray for them and God's blessing on them.
The Invest Credit team is not sitting on their laurels.  Their vision for the years ahead includes further expansion in Moldova and creating strategic links with future microfinance activity in Central Asia as a credible means of making the love of Christ known to the predominantly Muslim populations.  May the Lord bless this team and continue to use them in ways to bless the materially poor!
For more information, please check out the Invest Credit website. 
New PEER Servants Website 
If you haven't check out the PEER Servants website recently, you may want to take a second to do so!  The new site tells the stories of transformation of many microentrepreneurs.  Just as important, it tells the stories of transformation of our volunteers as well!  Speaking of volunteers, an all-volunteer team led by the amazingly-gifted Val Boudreau, completed the new website!  Great job, Val! 
Vladimir Gotovchin, Moldovan CobblerEntrepreneur in Focus 
Vladimir Gotovchin
Cobbler, Moldova
A few years agon, Vladimir Gotovchin had no job, no job skill, and no money.  He knew he'd been wasting his life and decided that a relationship with Christ and honest work was the best way to live.
Vladimir found a job in a shoe shop and learned to make shoes which he would sell in the central outdoor market.  However, the sizes were not always what the customers were looking for, so sales were sometimes very slow.
Vladimir kept looking for opportunities and discovered that there was a need for custom-made shoes right in his neighborhood for the many with disabilities and odd-sized feet.  He could take orders and make shoes specifically for them.  A business was born!
Invest Credit, PEER Servants' Moldovan microfinance partner, had already served his family well -- Vladimir's wife had taken a loan to start a cosmetics business.  Vladimir used part of the proceeds from his wife's loan to buy some shoe-making materials.  He sold his first few shoes and had a successful start to the business.  He went directly to Invest Credit for his own loan and with this loan was able to start a small shoe shop.
Vladimir is proud to provide shoes to people with disabilities and to those who have a hard time finding a comfortable pair.  He loves being self-employed and his quality of life has greatly improved.  Vladimir recently noted, "Microcredit is important because it has helped me grow my business, feed my family, and support my church."
Strengths of the Materially Poor - Agility
Nigerian ChildrenThe African school students gathered for their class - eager to learn today's lesson.  Unfortunately, their teacher was delayed and would not arrive until 30 minutes after the class was supposed to start.  The students applied the "10 minute rule" and dismissed themselves since the teacher had not showed up -- right?  Wrong!  In this class, the smartest student went forward and started teaching the other students the lesson for the day until the teacher arrived.
The materially poor are very agile - they respond very quickly to their current circumstances and make the most of them.  They are used to a world where everything doesn't necessarily work as or when it should, and so they have developed much greater strengths than the materially rich at responding effectively in the short-term to making the most of the situation.  While the materially rich may be better strategic planners given their ability to rely more on the long-term, short-term planning is a greater strength of the materially poor.
For those of us in the materially rich world, sometimes it is very difficult for us to adjust to circumstances different than we had expected.  If we are giving a presentation and the technology doesn't work, we often spend valuable time trying to fix the technology instead of communicating the message.  We become frustrated in traffic or if a missed flight affects our plans instead of looking around us to make the most of the situation.  We don't take the time to extend hospitality to an unexpected visitor.  We miss out on the peace and the ability to think well given our frustration.  The materially poor have something to teach us.  Agility is just one more strength of many of the materially poor.
Todd EngelsenPresident's Update 
I often use this section of our newsletter to address one of our PEER Servants core values.  This month the core value is "The Value of Volunteers".
One distinctive of PEER Servants is that we work primarily through volunteers.  We do that for at least two reasons -- first, because volunteers bring great expertise from the workplace that we would never have with just full-time staff; second, because volunteers give us a number of points of contact with the North American church in which we hope to effect transformation. 
If you have made it this far in Quarterly News, you know we have just introduced a new website.  Check it out - we're excited about how well it tells our story.  Virtually all of that work was done by a team of three volunteers -- Val Boudreau, Seth Paine, and Kathleen Bissonnette.  They put in near countless hours on the project (and will continue to put many hours in keeping the website fresh).  Our financial outlay to introduce that website -- virtually nothing.
You have also read quite a bit about Moldova in this issue of Quarterly News.  Another PEER Servants volunteer, Walter Suckau, recently returned from Moldova having served Invest Credit for a year in helping them strengthen and streamline their operations.  Can you imagine?  Walter, and his wife, Krishana, being willing to forego an annual salary and willing to apply their great skills to bless the materially poor of Moldova.
One of the people God has used to bless me most among our microfinance partners is Reverend Panya Baba, founder of our Nigerian partner.  I'll never forget as Reverend Baba saw the work of our PEER Servants volunteers and found out that they weren't being paid, had covered their own cost of travel to come to Nigeria, and brought such excellent skills and Christ-like attitude.  He replied with one word.  "Amazing!"
I, too, even after all of these years, stand amazed.  And what leads to such willingness to sacrifice and give of themselves?  That leads to two other core values within PEER Servants -- the Centrality of Christ (the volunteers desire to offer everything they do to Christ for His glory and do it as unto Him), and the Reign of Reciprocity (the volunteers receive so much more from the staff, board members, and clients of our microfinance partners than they could ever give).  The Foundation of Fellowship and Power of Prayer, our remaining core values, have quite a bit to do with it as well.
Thank you for your ongoing support of this amazing team.
Serving together,