Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Photographer Pep Bonet captures the transformative power of microfinance, shares proceeds with Kiva

This post was contributed by JB Reed, the CEO and Co-Founder of Nuru Project, a site that sells photojournalists’ work to help support nonprofits.

When I first started out in photojournalism, I learned that there’s supposed to be a division between reporters and activists. Getting too involved with your subjects -- the thinking goes -- can compromise your authority to tell a story.

But these days, photojournalists are increasingly comfortable acting as overt advocates, and sometimes even work in partnership with nonprofits. Often, photojournalists and socially-driven organizations make natural allies. One group tells stories about the injustices that the second group and their followers are trying to bring to light.

I am the Co-Founder and CEO of an organization called Nuru Project, which sells prints by the world’s best photojournalists to support the world’s top nonprofits. When someone buys a print, the photographer gets 25% of the proceeds, but a full half goes to the nonprofit in question. Kiva is one of this distinguished groups, as well as Acumen Fund, Malaria No More, and Architecture for Humanity among others.

We started working with Kiva when we discovered the amazing work of photographer Pep Bonet. Since 2010, he has been traveling around the world, documenting the transformative power small loans have had on the lives of poor women who have never had access to financial services before. His images are beautiful and stirring while sending a strong message about the importance of microcredit in the developing world.

Yolanda Portrias (pictured above) is 55 years-old. She collects seaweed to sell at the market. She has had access to microcredit for ten years and works together with her husband.

"I've met a lot of strong women with very good energy," Pep says of Yolanda and this photo. "People don't get rich with microcredit but it's a small solution on a very big scale. I noticed how women became stronger and more independent. Many are now standing up for their rights and the rights of other women. I think that a very small difference can make a positive change in your life."

Ligaya Domingo is 70 years-old. She grows organic rice, onions, garlic and different vegetables. Ligaya has had access to microcredit since 1990, just after the earthquake and the floods that hit the Philippines. Ligaya has four children and ten grandchildren that help her with the daily tasks in the field.

"Ligaya is the example of how microcredit can not only improve your life but also your spirit," Pep says of the above photo. "I spent a morning Ligaya. She has lots of energy and loves to be able to work at her age."

He adds, "I noticed how women with microcredit became stronger and more independent. Many are now standing up for their right and the rights of other women. I think that a very small difference can make a positive change in your life."

All told, Pep has pursued the project through nine countries on three continents, meeting women who have grown businesses, supported their families, and established sustainable futures with the help of microfinance. Their businesses range from raising livestock to running beauty parlors or restaurants, but all of Pep’s women subject share the confidence that comes with independence and self-reliance.

If you’re moved by Pep’s work, consider buying a print, and know you will be supporting Kiva’s mission to alleviate global poverty through micro-lending at the same time.

You can learn more about Nuru Project here, and browse prints from other photographers here.