Posted on Oct 01, 2018
Barney spoke about the Rotary Micro Finance initiative that has assisted people in many areas by providing small low-interest loans to help start and support small businesses.  
One example was Levi Johnson who lived in Detroit and when the Global Financial Crisis hit he turned what was a hobby into a successful business with the help of a Rotary microloan. 
He used to cook up a Cajun sauce for his family and when he was laid off from his job he decided to get serious about his sauce which he called Mr Levi’s My-T-Fine Soul Sauce.  With the help of the Detroit Rotary District 6400 project that provides microloans and free business education to small-business owners and pairs them with Rotarian mentors, he was granted a $1000 loan which he used to launch his business. 
It’s a great concept and is based on the premise that small-scale loans paired with education and support can have a great impact on troubled communities.  It’s a natural fit for Rotarians who represent a cross-section of business and community leaders with a wealth of experience and connections.  Loans are small - $1000 to $2500 to be repaid with 5% interest over one year.  There is a failure rate for repayments of only 1%.   
The Detroit project was started when a number of clubs in the District got together and made donations that helped pay instructors for business classes which participants are required to complete before receiving their loan.  This is a great system and something we should look closely at in the future to assist our poorer comminutes and help people who need a little bit of capital, business education and networks to get started in business.