On Friday, 4 April, I was invited and privileged to go to Hermosillo, Sonora Mexico with PDG Abe Feder of the Microcredit Project and the D5495 Tempe South Rotary Club and its 501(c)(3) Foundation, a nine-year-old Rotary Global Grant service project with FinReg, a Mexican company that makes small loans to lower income level individuals who own basically sole-proprietor, entrepreneurial companies.  The loans they have been making for over 12 years to over 25,000 entrepreneurs are focused on productive projects, serving the entire community, including those who live in rural areas, minority groups and ethnic groups.  

We travelled on Friday via a very comfortable Tufesa bus service motorcoach arriving about 4 hours from Tucson, checked into our clean but small hotel and then had a wonderful dinner at the home of Terri Ruiz Mendoza, Past President of the Club Rotario Hermosillo Milenio, which is the principal local partner Rotary Club for the Microcredit Project. Abe, Terri and members of FinReg and Rotario Milenio made presentations on the Project, including an excellent reason for microcredits video, Immigration, Poverty and Gumballs (short version), and slideshow, The Faces of MicrocreditWe learned that the Microcredit Project, although initially funded by three Rotary Global Grants in 2014, 2015, and 2016 totaling about $277,000 as an international project between the (then) three Arizona Rotary Districts and the Club Rotario Hermosillo Pitic in Mexico, is now a self-sustaining project with the repayments of the microcredit loans used to fund and administer over $4,000,000 in loans over the nine years- it truly is a never-ending story!
 
On Saturday morning we visited the Finreg office in Hermosillo (they have six others) to hear about the loan application, screening, credit review and loan approval process.  As an SEC/MSRB Registered Municipal Advisor and former Wall Street investment banker, I was VERY favorably impressed with the thorough and sound procedures this small but mighty firm uses!  After that, we set out to visit six recipients of the Rotary-FinReg microcredit loans to see their small places of business (oftentimes in or connected to their homes), including a laundry/ironing shop with one washer and dryer, a bakery, a tortilla maker, a couple of small restaurants, a family snack/used goods vendor and a gift store.  Each of us were asked to interview the owners about their loans, including details of the process and the use and benefits of the loans for purposes of data collection for the Project.  Eye-opening- the brilliant use of such small sums of money (generally $200-$5,000), which are LOANS and repaid to make more loans!) have such profound effects on the lives of these individual entrepreneurs, their families and their communities that I almost immediately decided to join this Committee if asked (which I was!). 
 
I strongly feel that the Microcredit Project (maybe should be renamed the Arizona Microcredits Project?) with PDG Abe Feder and his team may be the most cost-effective, most beneficial Rotary service project that there is.  It serves to help individuals pull themselves up by the bootstraps and become self-sufficient members of their families, communities and nation.  The next generally expense-paid trip to the Microcredit Project in Hermosillo is probably in October 2024, and I highly recommend going. 
 
What better way to help otherwise would-be immigrants than to provide them the means to stay in the country that they love? -Story & not-so-great photos  by Leo Lawrenson
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