NPO 031: The Power of Trust, Accountability and Incentives (Helene Dudley, TCP Global)


Today's Guest: Helene Dudley 
Helene Dudley helped establish The Colombia Project in 2000, a zero-overhead, sustainable micro-loan program, which evolved to include TCP Global in 2014 and now supports loan programs in 7 countries, including one with former Florida foster care youth in Miami. Helene served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Colombia and Slovakia and is a member of the Board Emeritus of the National Peace Corps Association. She received the Lillian Carter Award from President Jimmy Carter in 2013 and a Presidential Lifetime Service Award in 2007. Helene is a member of the Rotary Club of Coconut Grove, Florida and serves on the board of Casa Colibri and Partnering for Peace.

Nonprofit Spotlight: TCP Global
The mission of TCP Global (The Colombia Project Global) is two-fold:

  • To continue to mentor and support existing micro-loan administration partners of The Colombia Project.

  • To provide pro bono assistance to organizations to replicate the success of The Colombia Project in marginalized communities in Colombia and around the world.

Lessons Learned:
In our conversation, Helene shared great stories about TCP Global's model, her philosophy behind it and how they have found their rhythm as an organization. Some of the key lessons learned are outlined below:

her philosophy behind this work, some of the lessons they’ve learned about trust, accountability, incentives and resilience. 

  1. Trust the People in the Community
    TCP Global has identified the basic expectations for operations in each community, but allows the grassroots community organizations to determine any additional guidelines around the micro loans. Rather than offering a cookie cutter model that each individual community would need to adapt to, this model recognizes the fact that communities are different and the people from that community will know best how to create successful parameters. The decisions that can be decided on the ground are:

    1. How much to charge for interest rates (as long as there is interest being charged and that the rate is lower than what the banks charge)

    2. How long recipients have to repay loans 

    3. How frequently loans are dispersed (Are they all given out at once, or are they given out on a rolling basis?)

    4. What kinds of projects to support

    5. Whether training sessions will be offered to loan recipients and what topics will be covered

  2. Accountability is Key --  "Trust, but verify."
    The only information that is passed on to new partners is what information is required for reporting on the progress of the micro loan program in that community. This is a very simple report that identifies the following information that are turned in on a monthly basis:

    1. Starting balance

    2. Payments that came in and resulting daily balance

    3. Loans that were given out

  3. Create an Incentive Model that Encourages Compliance from All Involved
    Additional funding for loans is available if the community can reinvest the initial loan amount two times.

    1. Once that comes back, the interest going forward does not need to be re-invested into the micro loan program, but rather can be used to subsidize operating expenses of the grassroots organization that is facilitating the program. This is an obvious incentive for the grassroots organization. 

    2. Those receiving the loans know that additional loans will be available if the initial loans are successful, so that serves as an incentive for the recipients of the loans.

    3. TCP Global wants to have good outcome numbers to share with donors, so they do everything they work hard to support the partners in their work of distributing loans.

  4. Find TCP Global online:


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