What is the Gnu Foundation?
The Gnu Foundation connects and provides resources to people and groups that support orphans, vulnerable children, their caregivers and support networks, around the globe.
Is the Gnu Foundation a charity?
Yes. The Gnu Foundation is a San Francisco-based non-profit charitable organization under the laws of California, and a federal 501(c)(3) non-profit public charity fully eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions. Our Federal EIN number is 26-4479083.
What is the Gnu Foundation mission statement?
“Connecting people to the resources needed to prosper”
Who are these ‘people’ Gnu that is focusing on?
The extreme poor, orphans and their guardians, young orphan entrepreneurs, widows and elderly women, children with AIDS, the handicapped, the under-served and overlooked. They are our neighbors, and fellow citizens.
Who does Gnu work with/through?
Gnu Foundation provides grants to established local community organizations with a reputation for high integrity and a history of effective service to those in our target groups noted above.
Where do we work?
Ongoing Gnu initiatives are currently located in: Kenya, in rural areas of Thika, Kilimambogo and Mt. Kenya and within the urban slums of Nairobi; in Tijuana, Mexico; in Zone 18 in Guatemala City, Guatemala; in rural central plateau region of Haiti; and most recently we have funded our first micro businesses in Cuba.
What approach does Gnu take to achieve its mission?
The ability to succeed and thrive is innate to all. Often the only difference between success and not, is having the proper tool in hand — true in the workshop, in business or in relationships. At Gnu we strive to connect people with the most effective ‘tools’ needed to prosper.
You have often heard the old adage “Give a man a fish and feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime”. We at Gnu have learned that many people already know how to fish, what they need is the fishing pole. This is what we do well, we provide the right tools for people to thrive, whether it be a fishing pole, a business loan, education funding, health care support or simply connecting vulnerable people to someone who cares and will support them.
Does Gnu equip groups with any specific tool or method?
One key tool is the appropriate use of micro-credit in the form of small loans– essentially “venture capital for the poor”. Experience has shown that the proper use of small loans to people is an extremely effective means of raising their level of prosperity – often from subsistence to sustainability. Other tools include education, training, and resource networking.
Who Founded Gnu Foundation?
James Sempere, who has a professional background of over 30 years in global finance, investment management, urban planning and environmental consulting, founded the Gnu Foundation in 2009. Active in supporting mission orphanages in Haiti, Mexico and Kenya for many years and in providing the seed capital needed to start up small-scale micro-finance operations for individuals and community groups. He has also been active in the micro-finance industry as a member of Accion International’s Presidents Council and as a Senior Advisor to Professor Muhammad Yunus and Grameen America.
Why was the Gnu Foundation founded?
Gnu Foundation was founded to build on existing initiatives and relationship that he developed over the years in serving vulnerable people around the world. With the encouragement of friends, family and professional colleagues, it became apparent that the time was right to move beyond an individual personal commitment to service, and to help capture a collective heart for service and giving that was so alive among these people. “The time is right, and the opportunities and positive attitudes to help others may not be around forever, it is a time to serve”.
What is the source of Gnu’s support and capital?
The original working capital for the Gnu Foundation came from its Founder. As the scope of involvement has grow, the Foundation has sought new sources of working capital, including donations, grants, corporate gifts, in-kind services, and support of both traditional and non-traditional nature (barter, sweat-equity). Gnu receives interest and support from individuals from around the globe, and is actively seeking corporate and grant organization support.
What has Gnu Foundation accomplished so far?
We have provided capital for and helped develop effective microfinance programs for a number of locally based programs. Additionally, Gnu is providing education and relationship coaching for partners, and networking connections with existing Microfinance Institutions (MFI’s). Current funding and working initiatives are in place with the following partner groups:
- Watoto Wenya Naguvo (Children of Strength) Orphans Program
Kusitawi Village, Kenya
- Furaha Community Center
Humura, Nairobi, Kenya
- Community of Hope Children’s Centre
- Donyo Integrated Sports Centre (DISC)
Ol Donyo Sabuk, Kenya
- Macheo Children’s Centre
Family Empowerment Program – Thika, Kenya
- New Life School
- Esperanza para Guatemala
Guatemala City, Guatemala
- Cuba Initiatives
- Credit Factory
- Dandelion Africa
Rift Valley, Kenya
- The Action Foundation
Kibera Slums, Nairobi, Kenya
- Casa de la Esperanza Orphanage
- Grameen America (U.S.-based micro-finance enterprise)
Where does Gnu Foundation want to go in the future?
There is obviously much work to be done in eliminating poverty around the world. Gnu Foundation is following the lead of an AIDS organization in Kenya who had as a mission statement “they die one at a time, so we help them one at a time”. A stark reality, but the message is “spot on”. Gnu Foundation is in place to help individuals and groups – one at a time — having said this, there is also a very big vision – to operate at a scale that could reach millions through the use of existing technology and connective services.
How does Gnu ‘network’ for their Partners?
We will vet and work with “best in class” organizations in order to bring their resources to bear for our Partners. We do not need to duplicate effective programs already in place – solutions often result through a simple case of “matchmaking”.
The poor (those needing the resources most) are not ignorant, lazy or ineffective. Rather, they are often simply not aware that a resource is available, or able to directly connect to the resource in a timely manner. Persons living in dry rural areas are certainly aware of the need for a source of clean water – it is the water that is lacking, not the desire or knowledge. The same goes for financial working ‘capital’. Very poor people are often exceptional entrepreneurs – able to take a business idea and transform it into a viable expression. It is the start–up or ‘venture’ capital that is needed — this is where the Gnu Foundation comes in.
What is Microcredit?
Microcredit is the extension of very small loans (microloans) to those in poverty designed to spur entrepreneurship. These individuals lack collateral, steady employment and a verifiable credit history and therefore cannot meet even the most minimal qualifications to gain access to traditional credit. Microcredit is a part of microfinance, which is the provision of a wider range of financial services to the very poor, often through a commercial Microfinance Institution (MFI).
What microcredit program tools does the Gnu Foundation uses?
The Gnu Foundation supplies working capital (microcredit) typically in one of the following ways:
- Gnu Microcredit loan program grant (group lending model loan program administered by a local Gnu Partner)
- Gnu Social Business Grant Program (grant of capital from Gnu Foundation or a Gnu Foundation partner to spur new business)
- Gnu Microcredit Loan Guarantee program (loan guarantees to back former Gnu borrowers “graduating” to commercial MFI’s)
- Gnu Young Entrepreneur loans and grants (typically to young orphans recently graduated from school)
Does the Gnu Foundation receive any form of payment or payback for their services or programs?
No. The Gnu Foundation is a granting organization, meaning our funds (which are donated to us) are given or granted to other organizations to fund and run their programs. Gnu does not receive any direct or indirect returns. We measure our “return on investment’ in terms of the social impacts that our resources provide — how many children can go to school, how many families are receiving a daily healthy meal; how has the quality of life changed for a local community; how has our grant made it possible for a partner organization to perform their service more effectively and in a sustainable manner.
Why do Gnu Foundation participants seem to have so much joy and passion?
It is an honor to serve others, and see the real effects of providing a warm meal to a hungry child, or the excitement of their learning in a school for the first time, or seeing the self-esteem built by starting one’s own business and watching it grow. At Gnu we celebrate these joys and make sure we take the time to “ring the bell” upon new successes. Life is much too short not to celebrate hard work.
Is the Gnu Foundation a “Christian” organization?
While the Founder is a committed believer and follower of Jesus Christ, and many of the key players in developing, running and participating in the Gnu Foundation are also Christians, there is no stated policy, mandate or religious litmus test that a participant, supporter or partner maintain any specific religious and/or cultural belief. It is absolutely true that “some of our best friends are …..” — fill in the blank. The Gnu ‘family’ will not discriminate for any reason, and knows no limits or bounds when it comes to service to others. We follow the directive in scripture where it says:
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Proverbs 31:8-9
It is the goal of the Gnu Foundation to be more than a voice for all who are destitute, and provide wherever possible the resources and means to these individuals so they themselves can move towards better health and prosperity – a noble expression and mandate whatever your particular belief.
How can I participate?
People can join in helping with the mission of Gnu in many ways.Through simply learning about an area you are interested in and taking a step to help others; through hands-on service; through wise use of your money – donations or investing; through the gift of time; your prayers and good thoughts; and through sharing of your new knowledge of the Gnu Foundation – spread the word, share your desire to help others – and move into action.
The “Ask” is: who else do you know that the mission of Gnu would be of interest to – that it might resonate in their hearts to serve those less fortunate? Cast the net further – to spread the word and interest.
How can I contact or make a donation to the Gnu Foundation?
The Gnu Foundation
P.O. Box 29301
San Francisco, CA 94129-0301
Charity or Sustainability?
To some degree both. We begin our work with groups often through charity – grants or gifts without expectation of repayment – however, this approach while necessary in some instances, is almost never sustainable or desirable long term. In order to bring someone out of poverty, they need to create an income stream that is both large enough and sustainable. We strive to make this a reality for all Gnu partners.
A great example of sustainability is a micro-loan program where small amounts of money are provided, and then the capital is re-paid to be relent again and again in a perpetual manner.
Is there anything new or unique about Gnu?
Two beliefs of Gnu are that the means/path to sustainability often exists, but is fragmented; and there is no need to ‘reinvent the wheel’ — whether it be a new web site, a new technology or an approach to poverty alleviation … if there is an effective and useful tool available or in place – then let’s use it! The same goes with organizations. The Gnu Foundation intent is to work with and connect effective existing organizations and apply them to the needs of those without access to these resources. An approach of connecting groups to resources – absent concerns of “competition” or turf – is in itself somewhat unique…
The Gnu Foundation Approach
The Gnu Foundation maintains a simple approach to our programs. We strongly believe in the concept of 'stability before sustainability' so we therefore dedicate our resources to helping the most vulnerable and higher risk individuals and work to help them help themselves to success using our various grant and support programs. As individuals become stable and prosper we work with them to transition them to other creative organizations (such as Kiva.com) as our ‘take out’ or financial transition partners. We don’t attempt to replicate or take credit for any work that can be and is being done by other good organizations and individuals.