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Papal foundation approves 125 microloans for aspiring entrepreneurs in Latin America

2014-06-17

Since their inception in 1992, the Populorum Progressio Foundation has helped hundreds of peasants in Latin America earn a living. Each year, they loan aspiring entrepreneurs up to $15,000 dollars to start their own businesses.

MSGR. EDMUNDO ABASTOFLOR
Archbishop of La Paz (Bolivia) 
"An economist would surely laugh at that amount. But we think that a small amount can go a long way when it reaches the poor and the people who really need it.”

MSGR. ANTONIO ARREGUI YARZA
Archbishop of Guayaquil (Ecuador)
"We try to bring Christ's presence to peasants in Latin America, to Afro-descendent minorities, and to indigenous communities.”

The Foundation's administrative council, made up of select Latin American bishops finalized their annual meeting in Rome. They voted to fund 125 projects, worth an estimated $1.8 million.

The projects are spread out over 17 countries, and largely deal with with infrastructure or agricultural output. Once notified, the entrepreneurs will receive the money from their home diocese. But it's not a one-way flow.

MSGR. EDMUNDO ABASTOFLOR
Archbishop of La Paz (Bolivia) 
"A family can buy a herd of five or six sheep to become self sufficient. Then, with their earnings they start paying back part of what they received. That money goes to support other families.”

One of the last sessions of their three-day meeting was an audience with their colleague-turned-Pope. He improvised a speech, talking about the importance of their work in helping the poor, but also about strengthening societies today.

MSGR. ANTONIO ARREGUI YARZA
Archbishop of Guayaquil (Ecuador)
"Societies deprive themselves from their future, the children, from their past and memories, the elderly, and from their strength, which are the youth. In this sense, it becomes a truly incredible form of self-destruction.”

The Pope told the Foundation that one of the ways to fight against this is through education. He asked the members to promote education not only the initiatives they approve, but also in their home dioceses.


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