For the first 14 years, The Colombia Project focused solely on Colombia, before evolving in 2015 as TCP Global with a global reach. The first sites supported by Peace Corps Volunteers emerged in Colombia as well. Friends of Colombia and individual Colombia RPCVs have been supportive partners all along the way.
In the first seven years, while the loan model was still evolving, each dollar sent to Colombia was invested 1.7 times in micro-loans. From 2007 to 2014, that increased to 4.5 times. This was accomplished through mentoring by email, with no PCVs on site, often in communities that The Colombia Project team had never visited.
This appears to prove our contention that what we do is fairly simple.
- We find good partners already working effectively in a marginalized community
- We send $1500 to start a micro-loan program with their existing clients.
- As loan management skills improve, we send more funds to expand the program.
- This diverts a portion of the revenue stream from the daily lenders who get rich by charging up to 10% in monthly interest. Even with a much smaller interest rate, the local non-profit is able to earn money to support good works in the community.
- TCP Global mentors by identifying opportunities and consulting on strategies to overcome obstacles, and we serve as chief cheerleader by celebrating successes.
We always wondered how much better it could be if there were a Peace Corps Volunteer on site to support the program or an RPCV mentor who actually knew the community.
As of August, 2019, TCP Global has six sites supported by currently serving Peace Corps Volunteers and the results are most encouraging. The first two sites were introduced by PCVs who have since completed their service but remain involved to support the programs. The first site, in Suan is so successful that TCP Global has contracted with the administrator to handle inquiries from other sites. No matter how well TCP Global explains the program, there is nothing as effective as seeing the program in action in a nearby community or talking to someone who has actually implemented the micro-loan model.
TCP Global recognizes that many Returned Peace Corps Volunteers retain strong bonds with their country of service and are willing to continue to work to help that country if provided an effective means of doing so. The TCP Global micro-loan program provides an affordable, sustainable way to facilitate development in the small communities where PCVs serve. TCP Global invites RPCVs from other countries to refer potential partners, to become mentors for programs in their countries, work with us to expand the program, and of course, donations are always welcome as well.