The 'Yes' Lens

Emily Wanderer's picture and story blog of saying "YES" to new experiences and perspectives.

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globalmatters:

Alleviating Poverty, One Visa Transaction at a Time
Visa employee shares how her work helps increase financial inclusion in her home country 
For Lorna Atiles, the last 20 years at Visa have been an adventurous ride full of passion, commitment and conviction.  
“I was there the day we distributed the cards to the very first group of beneficiaries. The expression of gratitude in those faces is something I will never forget.”
Lorna is originally from Moca, Dominican Republic, a town with nearly 174,000 people and best known for its agricultural production and strong political background. Her path to Visa was via Banco Popular, which continues to be one of Visa’s most prominent clients in the region. Today, she is Senior Business Development Leader for the Caribbean, responsible for managing relationships with more than 200 financial institutions. She also identifies new business opportunities and potential sales leads, and develops strategic plans that speak to current economic and regulatory landscapes as well as prospective client negotiations. But it was one accomplishment while at Visa that makes her glow with pride.
Alleviating poverty
In 2004, the new President elect in the Dominican Republic commissioned a pilot program later called Solidaridad, which would help alleviate the imminent issue of poverty. The Solidaridad program currently provides funds to those in need within different categories – gas (home and transportation), health, education, food, and others.
Visa had a solid footprint in the market and processed domestic transactions through VisaNet since the 80’s. Visa was brought on board to work with ADDESS (the newly created Subsidy Administration Agency) and the United Nations to help with this pilot. And Lorna was tapped to help get the project off the ground.
“I remember the very first meeting on Solidaridad,” said Lorna. “Someone asked me early on in the negotiations, ‘You think this segment will be able to use plastic, and much less at the point of sale?’ I told them “Of course, if Dominicans go to live abroad and prosper, what makes you think they won’t learn how to use a card?” 
Lorna was right about card usage. Not only have Dominicans become accustomed to using Visa’s Solidaridad debit cards for subsidy support at the point-of-sale, they now adopt electronic payments for commercial transactions. 
More than a pilot
After its initial roll out with 200,000 cards in circulation and massive promotional and educational efforts in place, the program became a reality for the Dominican Republic’s government and for all involved. 
“I was there the day we distributed the cards to the very first group of beneficiaries,” she said. “The expression of gratitude in those faces is something I will never forget. I realized then, the extent of the problem [poverty] in my own country, and became immediately vested in defending the integrity of the program so that the best interest of the beneficiary remained at the top of everyone’s agenda.” 
Through the Solidaridad Program, thousands of mom and pop shops, known as colmados, became terminalized to accept the cards where the subsidies were being distributed. Expanding acceptance across the territory raised the entrepreneurial bar, and meant that Visa had to answer to a separate set of needs - formation, constant assistance and high-level servicing.  
Support and survival
After nine years, the Solidaridad Program has nearly 1 million issued cards. Lorna attributes much of the success to the unfaltering commitment of all parties involved to solve for the need of the Dominican people. 
“It is so gratifying to see how much the program has grown through the years,” she said. “As a Visa employee, I am honored to be part of the team that pioneered the program. I am thankful that we [Visa] never lost sight of what we needed to achieve, and opted to do great by doing good.” 

globalmatters:

Alleviating Poverty, One Visa Transaction at a Time

Visa employee shares how her work helps increase financial inclusion in her home country 

For Lorna Atiles, the last 20 years at Visa have been an adventurous ride full of passion, commitment and conviction.  

“I was there the day we distributed the cards to the very first group of beneficiaries. The expression of gratitude in those faces is something I will never forget.”

Lorna is originally from Moca, Dominican Republic, a town with nearly 174,000 people and best known for its agricultural production and strong political background. Her path to Visa was via Banco Popular, which continues to be one of Visa’s most prominent clients in the region. Today, she is Senior Business Development Leader for the Caribbean, responsible for managing relationships with more than 200 financial institutions. She also identifies new business opportunities and potential sales leads, and develops strategic plans that speak to current economic and regulatory landscapes as well as prospective client negotiations. But it was one accomplishment while at Visa that makes her glow with pride.

Alleviating poverty

In 2004, the new President elect in the Dominican Republic commissioned a pilot program later called Solidaridad, which would help alleviate the imminent issue of poverty. The Solidaridad program currently provides funds to those in need within different categories – gas (home and transportation), health, education, food, and others.

Visa had a solid footprint in the market and processed domestic transactions through VisaNet since the 80’s. Visa was brought on board to work with ADDESS (the newly created Subsidy Administration Agency) and the United Nations to help with this pilot. And Lorna was tapped to help get the project off the ground.

“I remember the very first meeting on Solidaridad,” said Lorna. “Someone asked me early on in the negotiations, ‘You think this segment will be able to use plastic, and much less at the point of sale?’ I told them “Of course, if Dominicans go to live abroad and prosper, what makes you think they won’t learn how to use a card?” 

Lorna was right about card usage. Not only have Dominicans become accustomed to using Visa’s Solidaridad debit cards for subsidy support at the point-of-sale, they now adopt electronic payments for commercial transactions. 

More than a pilot

After its initial roll out with 200,000 cards in circulation and massive promotional and educational efforts in place, the program became a reality for the Dominican Republic’s government and for all involved. 

“I was there the day we distributed the cards to the very first group of beneficiaries,” she said. “The expression of gratitude in those faces is something I will never forget. I realized then, the extent of the problem [poverty] in my own country, and became immediately vested in defending the integrity of the program so that the best interest of the beneficiary remained at the top of everyone’s agenda.” 

Through the Solidaridad Program, thousands of mom and pop shops, known as colmados, became terminalized to accept the cards where the subsidies were being distributed. Expanding acceptance across the territory raised the entrepreneurial bar, and meant that Visa had to answer to a separate set of needs - formation, constant assistance and high-level servicing.  

Support and survival

After nine years, the Solidaridad Program has nearly 1 million issued cards. Lorna attributes much of the success to the unfaltering commitment of all parties involved to solve for the need of the Dominican people. 

“It is so gratifying to see how much the program has grown through the years,” she said. “As a Visa employee, I am honored to be part of the team that pioneered the program. I am thankful that we [Visa] never lost sight of what we needed to achieve, and opted to do great by doing good.” 

Loving #NewSeasons even more! These new tags help customers buy from companies that do good for the world. (at New Seasons Market)

Loving #NewSeasons even more! These new tags help customers buy from companies that do good for the world. (at New Seasons Market)

Repost EverGift Blog: “The DREAM Project + EverGift Go Social!”

Over the past 3 years, EverGift and its long time friend, The DREAM Project, located the Dominican Republic, have been slowly cooking up the idea of partnership. In Fall 2013, everything fell together when a very special group of students entered The DREAM Project’s A Ganar program, a Partners of the Americas program focusing on reintegrating at-risk-youth into school or work. Twelve women were chosen to go through caregiver training; upon completion of the program in June 2014, each will have certifications from the Dominican Republic Ministry of Health as well as English language classes and Montessori Child Development technique training. These abilities are virtually unheard-of among Dominican childcare workers, though parents in our surveys stated they would pay $12.50 per hour for an on-demand sitter with these skills (that’s up from $1.25/hr, the regional average for full time nannies.) With tourism growing and tourist services making up the principal GDP in this region, there is certainly demand and great opportunity for these women to capitalize on. 

In January 2014, TRIUM Legacy Fund stepped up to distribute loan funds for the development of a nanny association made up of A Ganar students. One exeptional A Ganar student has shown great entrepreneurial spirit: she as well as another star employee was selected to lead the start-up efforts. EverGift Program Coordinator Emily Wanderer (and author of this blog post), has been working hands-on with the two leaders, the group of student caregivers and other staff at A Ganar to get the association off the ground. 

There has been great head-way over the last two weeks. One short week from now, EverGift will be hands-off and the students will continue setting up their business plan, working on contracts, and will present their completed project proposal to the TRIUM + EverGift Action Representative on April 15th in hope receiving an interest-free loan to cover start-up costs. If successful, the business is set to begin placing nannies with families between Puerto Plata and Cabarete this coming June. While we’re proud that this is the first association of nannies in the region, we are also proud to announce that the association is by all definitions a social business

Please stay tuned to find out more about what makes this a social business and much more!

Nanny Cooperative in Puerto Plata

Things are off to a great start with the nanny cooperative I’m founding in the region of Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic. The nannies will be the graduates of Partners of the America’s A Ganar vocational training program for at-risk-youth, directed by friend and colleague, Kathy. The students will graduate with certificates in english, first aid and montesorri child development - these outstanding skills make up out cooperative’s USP #1: QUALITY. The manager will be another A Ganar student who has taken on the responsibilities with great enthusiasm. Patricia, a friend, colleague and accounting major, will take over as the Financial and Business Advisor now that the foundation has been laid. Friend and Peace Corps member, Dan, has been a fantastic help with financial and business development ideas and planning.

Best of all the business will be a by the books social business and all profit surplus will be distributed back into community growth, employee benefits or evenly distributed as cash dividends to all the members of our staff (nannies and administration).

Sad to be leaving the DR with such a great project in the works but that’s exactly how it should be. These two Dominicanas are more than capable of leading this business to success! I can’t wait to visit in 6 months and see it thriving and employing and empowering more talented women!

Puerto Plata home

Puerto Plata home

Vision for the Future: Featuring influential individuals and their goals for 2014

I featured my brother this month for our Vision for the Future series. Take a look!
"My vision is for every global citizen to have the financial power to choose their destiny and live a fulfilled life.  I started EverGift because of the inherent power of micro-finance to do just that, EMPOWER.  This year, I will work to expand EverGift, strengthen social enterprise and empower bottom of the pyramid individuals across the Americas, Africa and Asia."
Matt Wanderer, Co-Founder 
A GANAR STUDENTS IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC WORKING TOGETHER DURING THE FIRST WEEK OF VOCATIONAL TRAINING. 
Evergift believes a collaborative effort is needed to promote solutions to unemployment. That’s why we’ve teamed up! Partners of the Americas’ A Ganar, implemented in Sosúa, Dominican Republic by The DREAM Project, a youth education NGO, offers at-risk-youth valuable training and mentorship, preparing them to enter the workforce.  In partnership with The DREAM Project, EverGift will be distributing an interest-free small business loan to A Ganar graduates.   -Stay tuned for more!

A GANAR STUDENTS IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC WORKING TOGETHER DURING THE FIRST WEEK OF VOCATIONAL TRAINING. 

Evergift believes a collaborative effort is needed to promote solutions to unemployment. That’s why we’ve teamed up! Partners of the Americas’ A Ganar, implemented in Sosúa, Dominican Republic by The DREAM Project, a youth education NGO, offers at-risk-youth valuable training and mentorship, preparing them to enter the workforce.  In partnership with The DREAM Project, EverGift will be distributing an interest-free small business loan to A Ganar graduates.   -Stay tuned for more!

Post for EverGift.org: What We’re Reading

Picture
From the Nobel Peace Prize winning author of Banker to the Poor and Creating a World Without Poverty comes Building Social Business. Muhammad Yunus, globally referred to as the pioneer of micro finance, again sets out to foster a business culture serving the bottom billion, this time through consumer products. 

Yunus devotes many pages to defining (or redefining, as the case may be) ‘social business’, a term which was first coined in the Victorian era. To Yunus a ‘social business’ of the 21st century is defined by having a unique mission “to overcome poverty, or one or more problems (such as education, health, technology access, and environment) which threaten people and society.” Yunus also specifically excludes profit maximization for shareholder wealth in ‘social business’, contrary to the primary purpose of a corporation in today’s market economy.

This book is a quick and fun read for those of you interested in business innovation or entrepreneurship. As all his books have been, Building Social Business is distinctly idealist, although less painfully so than Creating a World Without Poverty. While he has spent most of his professional life in academia, it doesn’t show-through in this writing. Every chapter includes a plethora of examples, ideas and even some jokes which engage the reader and make this non-fiction read a fairly easy one on the cranium. We would definitely recommend this one!
#differences My fresh honey comes in a recycled Brugal (regional rum) bottle.

#differences My fresh honey comes in a recycled Brugal (regional rum) bottle.