The Microlending Film Project tells the story of mothers, wives, daughters - and entrepreneurs. Watch what they can do with $25.
How it all got started:
The Microlending Film Project was conceived as a passion project when I was working as a Futures and Equities Trader in Chicago after I read this article late one night on a Chicago trading floor:
The article discusses the value of microlending to women in the developing world and how it can bring real economic change to impoverished communities.
Studies show women allocate more resources to food, children's health and education than do men - which makes them ideal borrowers since they are using money in more sustainable ways. When given the tools to start their own businesses, these women are empowered to take control of their own lives and are in turn able to support their own families, create jobs in their communities, spur economic growth, serve as role models for other struggling women, etc... it is exactly the kind of change that can transcend generations/geographic locations and truly impact the way our world works.
I was so inspired by this concept that I took a huge leap of faith. I quit my finance job and dedicated myself to making a film about it. Armed with only a small chunk of personal savings, some film classes from college, and a commitment to do something, I set out to figure out how to put together a feature film...
It has now been nearly two years since I built a website, put a volunteer crew together, and set out for Paraguay to start filming, thanks in large part to funding from our first Kickstarter initiative early last year. Our growing group of supporters then helped get us to India to document the hotbed of philosophical debate surrounding microfinance, and to Kenya, a nation leading the globe in next generation microfinance and mobile money innovation.
How YOU can help:
With filming completed, we need funds to complete post-production - this includes editing, sound mixing, color corrections, and narration/translations among other things. We also need help covering expenses of film festival applications so that we can get the film distributed and can accomplish our ultimate goal of inciting discussions around the globe about microfinance and how it can change the world. We also plan to accompany the film's release with social action campaigns and community outreach initiatives that will allow viewers to engage directly with programs and policies related to microfinance and women.
What YOU get in return:
We've got some great thank you gifts, and we'd love to get them out to you. Your pledges will play a key role in finishing this labor of love and helping us compile the amazing footage and interviews we have on hand into a format that can reach a broader audience. I will never forget the invigorating rush of inspiration after I first read about the power of microlending. I can only hope that, with your help, we can share that feeling with the rest of the world. Thank you for helping us make that happen!
*If you'd prefer to make a tax-deductible donation using our fiscal sponsor, you can do so through our website, www.microlendingfilm.com by clicking on the 'How to Help' button.
To actually make this film happen, I found an amazing team of people who were equally inspired by the possibilities surrounding empowering the world's women. The team includes Director of Photography Steve Hiller, who has worked on more than 50 studio Hollywood films; Composer Matty Bernstein, who has produced for the Grammy-nominated Shiny Toy Guns; and many other wonderful people who wanted to contribute their talent and energy to the project. Our Audio Engineer Dom Mendicino, who works full-time in a Chicago recording studio, has been a tireless contributor and zen-master to the project (maintaining amazing calm even during the most difficult travel conditions). Paul Smith for being an amazing Associate Editor, and Producer Megan Hryndza, who has gone above and beyond time and again to help keep this project alive. Thanks to Lou Karsen and Stef Karlin and their families for believing in us from the beginning, Dmitriy Khavin for all of his editing expertise and good-naturedness, Allison Baum for her narrative genius and kickass organization skills, and Michael Key of William Fillmore for putting together the awesome music in this short in a couple hours! Check him out at www.williamfillmore.com.
Most of crew is made up of volunteers: they work for little or no pay to keep this project running!
This is a great question. While Kickstarter is fantastic and has helped our project survive in ways nothing else could, our small team simply doesn't have the bandwidth to get the word out about the project to an audience large enough to support full funding in a 30 or 60 day time span (as evidenced when we fell short of our larger Kickstarter goals not once, but twice).
It's been more than a two year journey since the project was first dreamed up, and we've had to continually fundraise throughout that time period in order to keep the project alive.
For instance, our first Kickstarter campaign, launched back in February, 2009, allowed us to complete our first shoot on location in Paraguay. After that, we had two unsuccessful campaigns - and we believe they didn't work because our goals were too ambitious for the time span we were allotted to get the word out about our work.
To help solve this problem, we've decided to work on smaller, more manageable Kickstarter goals that we feel more confident we can meet to continue moving along as the project has progressed. Now that we're nearly finished and are fundraising for the post-production stage, we're so grateful to all of the people who have helped us make this strategy work. Thank you!
pledged of $5,999 goal
seconds to go
Feb 1, 2012 - Feb 29, 2012
Pledge $5 or more
It takes 5 women to start a 'checks and balance' committee to take out a microloan. Donate at this level and receive a thank you shout-out on our Facebook page, as well as our eternal gratitude!Estimated delivery: Feb 2012
Pledge $18 or more
Microborrower Rajini Devi, a 26-year-old from Andhra Pradesh that we feature in our film, was the sole breadwinner in her household of 3 after her father's death, and she worked to make $18 per month to cover household expenses. Donate at this level and receive a handmade good from Rubina, Kari Litzmann's company connecting goods made by microborrowers with people interested in supporting social business all around the world.Estimated delivery: Sep 2012
Pledge $27 or more
Muhammad Yunus’ first microloan in the village of Jobra, Bangladesh was for $27. Donate at this level and receive a DVD of the completed feature film!Estimated delivery: Sep 2012
Pledge $45 or more
Constantina, one of the women profiled in the film, was given a loan of $45 to start her hot dog carton business. Donate at this level and receive a item handmade by one of the microborrowers we met during the course of filming.Estimated delivery: Sep 2012
Pledge $60 or more
Pablina Portillo, one of the women featured in The Microlending Film Project, took out a loan of $60 with a group of 14 other women to launch her sweetbread business. Donate at this level and receive a movie poster and DVD of the completed feature!Estimated delivery: Sep 2012
Pledge $94 or more
94% of borrowers are women. Donate at this level and receive a rad T-shirt showing your support of The Microlending Film Project, as well as a DVD of the completed film!Estimated delivery: Sep 2012
Pledge $235 or more
The average group loan given by Fundacion Paraguaya - a microlending organization of which Pablina Portillo is a client - is $235. Donate at this level and receive an authentic product from a female microborrower, as well as a DVD of the completed feature!Estimated delivery: Sep 2012
Pledge $500 or more
Of the 500 million 'microbusiness' owners worldwide, only 2% have access to credit. Donate at this level and receive an invitation to the premiere of our film handwritten in English and Telugu, the native language of an area in southern India where we filmed, as well as all of the above.Estimated delivery: Sep 2012
Pledge $1,000 or more
In Bangladesh alone there are more than 1,000 microcredit institutions. Donate at this level and receive an on screen Associate Producer credit, a preview DVD with a reaction card for your input, as well as all of the above.Estimated delivery: Sep 2012
Pledge $5,000 or more
Bill Gates recently pledged $38 million towards microcredit. Become our Bill Gates. Donate at this level and receive an onscreen Executive Producer Credit, as well as all of the above.Estimated delivery: Sep 2012