For some families, just a $500 loan can mean their children will be able to attend school.
Will Harris helps those families to receive those loans.
A staff member with Working Capital for Community Needs, Will spoke to the Waunakee Rotary Club on May 11 about micro-lending.
Rotary International has done amazing things for Will, he said, including granting him a Rotary World Peace Scholarship just after he’d finished his master’s degree of business administration at University of Arizona.
The Mineral Point native became one of several Rotary World Peace Fellows, allowing he and his wife, who is from Brazil, to spend two years in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Will traveled all over South America and studied economic development – micro-financing in particular. Others studied subjects such as conflict resolution for women or after a war.
Micro finance provides poor people living in a war-torn county with no banks access to loans. For a very poor family, even a small loan allows them to start a profitable business.
WCCN was once called the Wisconsin Loan Council in Nicaragua and was started by Doug La Follette who wanted to help people in a country devastated by civil war.
Some 25 years ago, the group in Wisconsin put $60,000 into the WCCN; today, the fund has grown to $13 million, generating more available funds to lend. WCCN has grown to several other Latin American countries, as well.
The loans are high interest – 35 percent – compared to loans in the United States, Will said, but the only other alternative is to borrow from a loan shark who would charge 100 percent or more.
For prospective investors, there is a minimum of $1,000. Will said quite a few religious organizations invest in WCCN.
“At the end of the day, there are a lot of really awful things you can invest in,” Will said, citing military weapons, hazardous chemicals and tobacco. “It’s a really good thing to do with your money.”
The default rate is low, just 2 percent, Will said, and loans typically go toward farmers who want to buy land or equipment to grow their enterprise.
For more information on the organization, visit
Other News:
–The club inducted Kim Phelan as a new member. Welcome, Kim!
-Tri 4 Schools is in need of volunteers for the May 20 children’s Triathlon. It will take place from 7:30-11 a.m.
-The club received thank-you notes from the Waunakee Educational Foundation for donating funds for the sculpture, along with the Post Prom Committee.
–Three club members volunteered to help chair the Easter Egg Hunt next year. Thanks to Joe Olson, Ryan Knight and Tyler Knowles for stepping up!
–President Travis Heiser also thanked all of the volunteers who helped out with the cleanup day at Village Pond.
–Travis got to represent the club and present four Waunakee High School seniors with scholarships. They went to Vivian Wilhelms, Shelbie Carson, Carson McFarland and Kallie Ziegler.
Guests: Liz Deihs, guest of Allison Feldbruegge; Zach Dahl, guest of Phil Willems.
Visiting Rotarians: Al Ripp, Downtown.
Birthdays: May 20, Shana Dunn; May 23, Bob Klostermann.
Anniversaries: May 23, Greg and Heidi Garton; May 24, Ryan and Sherri Knight.
Greeters: May 18, Leonard Allen and Robert Arntz; May 25, Joe Baer and Ken Ballweg; June 1, Roberta Baumann and Scott Biba.