Freedom from Hunger (2013 IF Grant Recipient)


Organization’s Geographic Region of Focus: Latin America

Alliance Areas of Concern:  Health, Education, Poverty

Challenge:  Many Latin American microfinance institutions lack capacity to provide professional development necessary for optimal field agent performance.  This in turn  jeopardizes performance and exposes clients to the risk of over-indebtedness.

Solution:  Transform existing training series for field agents into a long distance learning e-platform, thus providing cost-effective and accessible training opportunities that will build field agent capacity and comply with emerging regulatory requirements.

Excerpted from the Proposal:

“In Latin America, the microfinance industry faces growing pressure to ensure transparency in its operations and adopt standardized tools to measure financial and social performance. To date, efforts have focused primarily on the development of quality standards for field agent performance. Governments in Latin America are strongly endorsing field agent training as a vital tool to reach the expected quality standards in the provision of microfinance and development. Field agents are in a pivotal position to affect change as trusted intermediaries between the rural poor and the outside world. While a field agent dons many hats, their ultimate role is to foster economic development for a population with limited economic and educational opportunities. Yet many MFIs lack the capacity to provide the professional development required for their field staff to perform to their fullest potential. Low competence of field agents jeopardizes the performance of MFIs, putting the institution at risk for poor portfolio quality and client at risk of over‑indebtedness.

“The overall goal is to improve the financial and social performance of the microfinance industry by strengthening and improving the core competencies of field staff using distance‑learning solutions.  . . .  Anticipated impact to the microfinance industry includes cost‑effective and accessible training opportunities to build staff capacity while complying with emerging regulatory requirements in Latin America on field agent performance.

“The initial distance‑learning curricula will be developed in Spanish and the modules will be offered in various combinations for a target audience that includes Group Credit Officers, Nonformal Education Facilitators, and Credit with Education Officers. Implementation of the course will be tested by Freedom from Hunger’s network of MFI partner organizations located in Mexico, Peru and Ecuador, and subsequently made available more broadly throughout Latin America.

“A detailed market analysis was completed in November 2012 that concluded the market is ready and Freedom from Hunger is well‑positioned to address this market in a sustainable way. Despite the growing demand, there are only inconsistent and incomplete offerings available today and they lack substance. Freedom from Hunger is seizing this opportunity to gain first‑mover advantage in building its training program and leveraging it on the e‑learning platform to create recurring revenue and diversify its financial resources.”

For more information about Freedom from Hunger.


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Leonard Kaplan’s creation of the Alliance for Global Good was the expression of his passionate philanthropy.  It’s also the logical outgrowth of all that came before it.  Together with his wife and philanthropic partner Tobee, and through a family foundation later renamed TOLEO, they gave unselfishly of resources and time to improve their community and the world for more than twenty-five years.

Tobee & Leonard Kaplan

Tobee & Leonard Kaplan

The Alliance’s focus on five areas of giving—health, education, environment, poverty, and world relations—is mirrored in Leonard’s past.  He has made major gifts to Duke University Medical Center and the Duke Comprehensive Cancer and Heart Centers, to the Lineberger Cancer Center at UNC Chapel Hill, to the Cardiac Rehabilitation program at Moses Cone Hospital, and had a leadership position at the Greensboro Cardiac Rehabilitation Program.  In 2004, Leonard and Tobee built the new building for the Women’s Resource Center in Greensboro. He created scholarships for residents of Guilford County to attend North Carolina colleges and universities, and was a founding donor of Elon University Law School.  Critically, in partnership with the Kellogg Foundation, Leonard helped create the Center for Organizational Leadership, a philanthropic studies program (which was one of first nationally to educate non-profit executives).

“Everyone wants to leave something to their grandchildren.”

“The money won’t matter if the world they live in is so far gone,” Kaplan says. “The opportunity now is to take some of what might become their inheritance, and use it soon to make the world a better place.”

Addressing poverty, Leonard made possible the building of two houses for Habitat for Humanity, and by providing food for hungry people both close to home in Greensboro, and as far abroad as the former Soviet Union.   The Kaplans were staunch supporters of Trickle Up, which provides grant financing to women in the developing world who want to start their own microenterprise.

Leonard gave not only of his wealth, but also of his time and expertise, taking on leadership positions in many organizations and campaigns such as the Greater Greensboro United Way DeToqueville Society, and as a Core Member of ACTION Greensboro, a nonprofit dedicated to improving public education, revitalization of downtown Greensboro, and leveraging economic development.

Active in their community of faith, the Kaplans built a new building for the Greensboro Jewish Federation, and for the Hillel youth organization at U.N.C., Chapel Hill.  He served on the board of the Jewish Foundation of Greensboro, and on that of the national Hillel organization, and was a founder of Camp Ramah Darom.

Viewing giving as a responsibility of affluence, Leonard led by example, and encouraged others to do the same.  He created Wealth & Giving, an educational program designed to inspire the largest wealth holders in this country to be more generous.  The Alliance continues that work by promoting and providing donors with opportunities for effective and efficient giving.

Read more about the Five Guiding Principles.