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On Tuesday, September 29,Global Development Matters Meetup welcomed Rebecca Kousky, the Executive Director and Founder of the nonprofit Nest, to discuss her unique business model. Nest utilizes a unique combination of interest-free microfinance loans, mentoring from established designers, as well as a market in which to sell their crafts, to help its loan recipients create successful small businesses. Nest’s mission is to instill pride of ownership in its artisans, preserve artistic traditions and successfully move women from poverty to self-sufficiency.
Rebecca also discussed a new way to assist women: microbartering. To address some of the limitations of microfinance, Nest provides women, or cooperatives of women, with loans that allow them to purchase the supplies, training, bazaar space or raw materials needed to make their crafts. However, rather than requiring repayment in cash, Nest encourages women to repay their loans in product, which Nest then markets and sells in the U.S.