Chloe Wilde is a Montreal-born hometown hero, whose rise to prominence follows a path that every budding reporter dreams of. The McGill graduate hosted content for AskMen.com during her studies, and then went on to win the 2013 Much Music VJ Search, before joining CTV’s Etalk as an entertainment reporter. Now, Chloe teams up with FINCA Canada who provide small loans to women living in poverty around the world. As an Ambassador for FINCA Canada’s work in eliminating women’s barriers to accessing credit and savings accounts, Chloe sat down with ONtheGO to discuss her involvement and recent trip to Haiti to meet the mothers her Ambassadorship is helping.
There are many great charities out there, what about FINCA Canada captured your attention and made you want to get involved?
FINCA has been partnering with the owners of small (tiny!) businesses around the world for almost 35 years. Today, FINCA Canada focuses on women living in poverty because they know that women use their meager profits to invest in schooling for their children. These mothers are breaking the cycle of poverty and raising the global citizens of tomorrow. Their three decades of providing hope was enough to pique my interest in this microfinance organization, but when I learned that their focus was on women, I had a palpable desire to get involved. Over 2 billion people worldwide have no access to credit or a savings accounts. And because women have more barriers than men, they represent more of these people that FINCA calls ‘unbanked’. In a time where women’s stories around the world are finally being heard, their concerns no longer pushed aside, their desires deemed worthy of pursuing, FINCA is creating opportunities for the most marginalized women to become curators of their own lives. Plus, I was raised by a single mom who did everything she could to provide for my brother and I and I wouldn’t be here without her … Go moms go.
In June you visited FINCA clients in Haiti, Can you describe your experience and share a moment or meeting that resonated with you?
It’s one thing to read a press release, have phone conversations about the work that is being done on the ground, or even watching client videos to learn about their stories, but it’s entirely different when you step off the plane, are greeted by a warm smile, the sun shining overhead and you realize: I’M IN HAITI. To say it was inspiring to have the opportunity to see first-hand the impact of FINCA’s work, sit in on village banking meetings, and meet clients in their place of work, would be selling it short. With FINCA, people are given a chance to lift themselves out of poverty, not with a hand-out but rather with a hand-up; their vision, entrepreneurial drive, passion for a better life and assurance that it can get better combined with financial education and loans allow for that. One particular moment that hit hard was when we were brought to a remote village, driving along a dirt road and walking down a path until we found ourselves joining a circle of people all seated on chairs going through their loan requests for the next cycle. What amazed me was seeing the client pitch their desired amount, and then anxiously await to see if the rest of the clients at that particular village bank would approve the request. The beauty of this, is that if a client defaults, the rest of the village bank steps up and helps them repay — one for all and all for one. It not only keeps people accountable, motivated to repay the loans on time but also provides a sense of teamwork and security if something were to happen.
How does providing a small loan to mothers living in poverty make a difference long-term? And why should Canadians care?
When women start earning more, the positive effect begins almost immediately. It has been shown that women focus on their children’s nutrition, education and also give back to the larger community. If you think about it, this is a two-pronged victory on the path to eliminating extreme poverty: the immediate impact of nourishment and education and the inter-generational impact of kids achieving higher education. The positive ripple effect is everlasting. While in Haiti, we visited a food shop on a bustling street where vendors filled the sidewalks as far as the eye could see. This shop was run by a woman, who’s spot carried a variety of items (fresh produce to cleaning products) and housed a big storage unit behind the shop. Her shop was not always in such a prime location or able to offer customers’ what they needed, but as she stood at the front of the story sharing her story and how she ended up there, starting small and growing over time with larger loans. It was clear there was immense pride that came with the shop, for herself, but more importantly for her children who now had access to better nutrition and the prospect of going to college as a result.
Let’s be active participants in ensuring these women have the chance to feel empowered, supported, and to know they can be game changers for their own lives and the lives of their little ones.
How can Canadians get involved with the great work FINCA Canada is doing with families around the world?
The easiest way is to make a donation on their website: it can be a personal donation or a holiday gift in honour of an entrepreneur you love or your mom! Follow them on social media and share their work. For organizations that would like to explore new partnerships, contact them directly: they’re very nice people! 😉 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anything else you would like to add?
Next time you grab your credit card to fill up on gas, buy a coffee or indulge in a new purchase, take a minute to step back and realize that this is a privilege. The ease at which we have bank accounts, accessibility to financial education and opportunity for growth is something I believe we all deserve, no matter what country or socioeconomic status. Let’s spread that privilege worldwide.
You can catch Chloe on Canada’s most-watched entertainment news program Etalk, weeknights at 7 p.m. ET on CTV and CTV GO.