“The name iZōsh comes from the Amharic language, spoken in Ethiopia. It is a word that means many things, but can be explained as “compassionate support of a woman.” (from the iZosh website)
Back in 2012, a handfull of amazing women in Ann Arbor, Michigan were inspired by the book Half The Sky to move from being people who talk about making a difference, to being people who actually do.
If you are familiar with the story of Buy The Change, you know that we were inspired by the same book at around the same time so we have a special connection to these ladies.
The iZosh group in Ann Arbor has grown from a handful of women to a large roomful of women who gather twice a year for community, to learn more about the issues of being poor and female in this world, and to make donations which fully fund microloans for women living on less than $2 a day.
The event was open to members and guests. Becoming a member only requires a commitment to make a twice-yearly, tax deductible donation. There is no minimum, commit to one dollar and you are a member. Only the club secretary knows what each member has pledged to give.
IZosh works with two microloan organizations, Kiva and World Vision. Microloans are relatively small loans given to low income individuals to enable them to start or expand businesses. The loans serve as a catalyst for creating sustainable earned income for people living in extreme poverty. One of the most amazing things is that micro-loan recipients repay their loans at an astonishing 97%. When the funds are paid back, they are loaned again.
The event I attended fully funded micro-loans for 20 women.
There is so much love in giving a woman the respect and dignity of earning a living. The long-term effect of microloans on reducing poverty are still being studied. Will these programs eliminate the overwhelming scope of extreme poverty faced by women in the developing world? In a word, no. To me, helping one family IS worth it. It's what grassroots intervention is all about.
At Buy The Change that’s what we do, change lives, one at a time.
Here is the most exciting part. The founders of iZosh, that handful of amazing women in Ann Arbor, have put together a website and kit to show you how to start a chapter at your church. Right now, all chapters must be affiliated with a church but are open to members of all faiths and fund loans for women of all faiths.
Does your church have a handful of amazing women who would be willing to lead your community into the world of “compassionate support of women”? They have you…
Even if you fund only one microloan, the life of one family can be forever changed.
In 2009 the Dalai Lama stated: "The world will be saved by the western woman".