Written by Alyssa Vandenberg
Humans of Change works towards financially empowering community members through a microfinance system called Alternative Income. The nonprofit Free the Children, partnered international education charity of Humans of Change, created the Alternative Income Program as a microfinance system that works on a community-wide scale in Free the Children’s partnered rural villages. In this form of microfinance, community members can support their own community’s financial growth by lending money to other community members through putting money into a “cash pot.” The money from this cash pot can be used to buy needed supplies to create items to sell. Often utilizing both natural resources as well as the supplies bought with the loans they received, members of the Alternative Income Program gather to create hand-made items to sell, like jewelry or tools. Once they have sold these hand-made items, those in the Alternative Income Program can repay the community members who contributed to the cash pot, as well as use the extra money they earned to provide needed food and supplies for their families.The Alternative Income Program allows community members to support their own community. The communities as a whole are strengthened, as those who participate in the program can use the extra funds they have earned to not only alleviate the poverty they face, but also to support education growth in the community. Though school may have been too expensive for impoverished families to originally even consider, the extra funds that the Alternative Income Program provides enables more families to send their children to school. While the Alternative Income Program currently exists only in certain regions partnered with Free the Children, over two hundred members participate in this empowering program that makes it possible for villagers to make a change in their own communities.