Less than a year ago, Jeanette Gibbs had no plans whatsoever to make a difference in Africa. Now her new organization Joy2theWorld, is working with women in Ghana to bring a cluster of villages with more than 10,000 residents out of poverty through microloans and variety of other services.

It started with a conversation she was having with a friend. She was talking about what she wanted to when she retired. She had vague notions of using her business acumen to help people.

“What are you waiting for?” said the friend.

The question gnawed at Gibbs. Soon thereafter she was a coach in Landmark Education’s Self-Expression and Leadership program, and she was looking for a project to make a difference in some community. At about the same time she went to a financial conference where one of the speakers gave a presentation about microcredit—Very small loans to people in impoverished communities to help them start their own businesses. Gibbs was impressed. Through the speaker she found out about an organization named Women’sTrust, an organization with a thriving microcredit program in Ghana. She took on a trip to Africa as her Self-Expression and Leadership project, going with Women’sTrust last August.

The two weeks she spent there were eye-opening. First she got to see how the village of Pokuase was thriving after a few years of the microloan program. She also got to see the other basic medical and environmental needs that people were still dealing with. The day before she was due to return to the U.S., she went to a nearby village on a fact-finding mission. When she got there she was astonished to find 50 women patiently waiting to meet with her to set up loans. Gibbs decided right then and there she would take on this village, called Medie, and the surrounding area herself. She promised the women she would return when she had the money in place for the loans.

She returned to the U.S. and began to make her vision a reality. She founded Joy2theWorld as an affiliate of Women’sTrust and began fundraising. She got two people to come with her on the next trip, one a nurse to help with medical needs and the other a good friend who became her partner on Joy2theWorld, helping her with everything there was to do and handle.

She expected to see the 50 women again, and when she returned in January of this year, she brought money for 100 loans to be on the safe side. She found that there were now 300 women waiting for her for loands. ‘I’ve got to raise more money!’ thought Gibbs. The loan process started in Medie and the surrounding villages.

Now she has returned to the U.S. and is committed to raising $1,000,000 this year to completely take care of expenses for the entire area. In addition to the microloans, she is taking on basic services like preventative medicine and electricity for a village who lacks it. Her goal: To have the entire area be economically thriving in less than three years.

Author's Bio: 

A writer and editor by trade, True is always interested in stories of how ordinary people manage to make an extraordinary difference in the world.