July 16, 2009
First Step Initiative
First Step Initiative is a Minnesota-based microfinance organization whose mission is to empower the world’s poorest individuals to lift themselves out of poverty with dignity through access to capital, training and information.
We work alongside poor entrepreneurs in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and provide small collateral free loans ranging in size from $50-150 to start and grow businesses. These loans provide participants with the much needed capital to establish or support one of the following business enterprises; grow vegetables and/or fruit, raise livestock, operate salons, purchase goods for trading, and cover transportation costs of goods from smaller markets to larger markets. Although the loan amounts may seem small, to the recipient they offer extraordinary value by generating income for food, housing, health care, and education for entire families.
We also recognize that credit is just one of the diverse services that poor people need to improve their lives. To further long-term results, loan recipients work in groups of ten, forming supportive and nurturing networks. These forums also offer participants advice from successful entrepreneurs on topics including best business practices, health and nutrition, improving living conditions, and the importance of educating children.