More Than Microfinance

There is no other non-profit organization that doubts itself like we do.

Even that, we doubt.

These days, there’s an increasing scrutiny of aid organizations around the world. NGOs are constantly rethinking how they do things and questioning their own motives. Yet, in all our days of looking, we haven’t found any group who does this better than us.

If this is your first time hearing of La Ceiba, here’s a little bit about what we do:

La Ceiba is a non-profit start up based in the United States. We stand for constructive criticism for social justice.

What do we mean by that?

Well, so many big aid groups – from UNICEF to Grameen to Refugees International – are charging ahead to make the world a better place. These giants are social justice juggernauts, which means they fight injustice around the world, promote human rights, and distribute resources fairly.

Valiant work, to be sure.

But they, like any other human entity, get it wrong from time to time. Sometimes organizations are hurting instead of ‘helping’ and someone has to call them out and ask them to rethink their process.

That’s our job.

We’re not to be confused with CharityWatch, Charity Navigator, or the Smart Campaign, who rate groups based on how well they use donations or treat the recipients.

No, we don’t lead from the side lines, we lead by example.

Instead of giving criticism, we build criticism into our process.

Everything we do, comes from the people we serve. Every idea we have, we take it to the recipients. Every proposal we write, gets demolished and rebuilt.

We scrutinize every assumption, down to the basic belief of ‘we should help.’

Because maybe we shouldn’t.

Our model runs on self-doubt and the onerous ability to take action anyway.

Instead of changing the world, and loading ourselves headstrong into the breach of social work, we’ve started small… with a little microfinance project… in Honduras.

In 2008, we set out to answer the question ‘what does the most ethical microfinance institution look like?’ Since then, we’ve given out hundreds of small loans to low income communities in El Progreso Honduras, and at every step we’ve doubted our own intentions.

It’s made us a better organization.

What’s more, we’re making the microfinance sector more accountable to their clients, world-wide.

We set up the Month of Microfinance, founded by our very own Shawn Humphrey, and encouraged MFIs everywhere to use doubt in their decision making process and always put the client first.

Many have shrugged us off as cynics or skeptics. They said we wouldn’t get very far because we were too thorough to be efficient.

But we’re still going, and going strong.

There is no other non-profit organization that doubts itself like we do. We understand our role as a sidekick in ending poverty. We look up to people like Ivan Illich who damn social justice, and Martin Luther King who champion it.

We stand for more than microfinance, and we’re coming to a social justice movement near you…


One comment

  1. J Theus · · Reply

    Dear Jeff,

    When your grandfather, Ken, and I were married in San Francisco, Oct 25,1960, we bought a new home in San Mateo as a wedding gift to each other.

    Neighbors within eleven homes were from eight different cultures (American, African, Chinese, English, German, Japanese, Jewish, Mexican) and included five separate religions (Buddhist, Christian, Hebrew, Hindu, and Shinto.)

    Most families were in their 30’s and had young children. None of the wives worked outside the home.* So, we had the opportunity of really get to know each other. We shared teas and coffee during the week and socialized as couples on weekends.

    What an education we all received at that time! For six years I learned about new recipes, child rearing ideas, household decors, cultural manners, philosophies, and roles between the sexes, etc., One overall concept became most obvious. There are basic human values common to all peoples.

    We all seek to feed our families, provide a roof over their heads, have a safe environment, live and teach values of survival to get along with each other. We may have different methods of meeting those needs, but they are necessary goals, because our greatest strength is in being social animals, as the successful history of humanity has proven.

    I truly believe that *Love* encourages *Hope* that can lead to a *Peace* and allows the *Soul To Rest*.

    Love, GM Theus

    * I returned to SF State Univ. and started teaching part-time at a local college after your mother was born so my mind would not “atrophy” further …. sic.

    On Mon, Aug 15, 2016 at 11:46 AM, Suddenly-Human wrote:

    > Jeff Paddock posted: “There is no other non-profit organization that > doubts itself like we do. Even that, we doubt. These days, there’s an > increasing scrutiny of aid organizations around the world. NGOs are > constantly rethinking how they do things and questioning their o” >

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