Microfinance brings people together – just like music

BRS (the Belgian Raiffeisen Foundation) supports microfinance institutions in Africa and Latin America, with coaching, training and financial support. One of the projects we support is the microfinance organization Pilarh OPDF in Honduras. Pilarh OPDF has developed a specific starters programme (Joven Emprendedor) for prospective young entrepreneurs, which includes free training and coaching and an appropriate credit or savings product.

One of these young entrepreneurs is José Osorio, a young artist (and entrepreneur) who makes beautiful mosaics. In 2013 he started with a small credit of 12.000 Lempira (500 USD). He now employs himself 14 youngsters and gains more national recognition, especially since he made the largest mosaic of Central America in the university of Tegucigalpa (Honduras).

BRS has now invited José to come and make a mosaic in Belgium on the occasion of the 25 th anniversary of BRS and the 125 th anniversary of the Cera Cooperative. BRS asked the Belgian musician Jean Bosco Safari to make a song about microfinance titled ‘It’s not about big money’. It was inspired by the speech of Muhammad Yunus in Brussels at the occasion of the 15th anniversary of BRS.  And also on the amazing story of José Osorio.

Jean Bosco Safari explains how this song came about:
“My first encounter with BRS was an event with the theme” Microfinance is a woman’s business”. And my meeting there with Béatrice Muhawenimana, a Rwandan woman who had achieved a lot thanks to microcredit. That was 

“I had been invited to the BRS event to sing a few songs. What I saw and heard that evening moved me so much that I said at the end of the evening: I want to write a song for you! Something I normally never say. But I was so struck by the change that microfinance brings about that I wanted to lend my support to BRS.”

“If you are clever and have a certain expertise, but live in an area where you have few opportunities, microfinance gives you the chance to achieve something despite the odds, to improve your own life. That’s great, don’t you think?  One step at a time. Because along with microcredit, people are offered training. And the organizations that provide microfinance get support, too, because employees of BRS and KBC share their professional experience with them.”

“I’m also very impressed by the fact that microfinance focuses mainly on women. Men tend to be ruled by their egos and are more aggressive. Women are more constructive, their thinking is oriented towards the long term and they’re more persistent. They can work in small groups, coaching and paying attention to individuals. And this focus on individuals is like cement, it binds people  together. That’s another reason why I’m a fan.”

“I very consciously choose to use my music for projects that deserve help. If I can make a contribution with my music, I’m happy to do so! Music is a fascinating thing: it heightens visibility, it makes things bigger. Music can do that. On stage, you create involvement, a greater whole. Then you experience what music is ultimately made for: to communicate and bring people together.”

“And that’s my mission: to bring people together. Which is what BRS does. Because microfinance is about much more than money. It’s also about self-esteem. About connecting people. About paying attention to individuals. Microfinance brings people together – just like music.”

So, the promised song came about.

BRS gave me input: stories, videos, a few sentences that describe their work. The metaphor of Muhammad Yunus for example, which says that poor people are bonsai people: people with the same qualities as others, but who live in conditions that restrict their growth.

‘Together’ was of course the key word. And ‘it is not about big money’.

Here is a link to the song on the BRS-website.

Here are the lyrics of the song in this PDF.

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