The candy man, “Mr. Willy Wonka” himself, wanted to make the world a better place. Menlo F. Smith, the founder of Sunmark Companies, was struck by the extreme poverty and suffering of the people while working on a three-year humanitarian project in the Philippines in the 1980’s. With training in simple business principles and with microloans that included proper accountability, people could bootstrap themselves to a better life.
After returning to the United States in 1989, Menlo collaborated with Warner P. Woodworth and Steven H. Mann. The three men organized a team of graduate students who studied opportunities and developed networking contacts in the Philippines.
In 1990 the dream came to life in the creation of Mentors International, a charitable organization offering a transformational program of mentoring, business training, and financial services to impoverished entrepreneurs.
The first partner organization was organized in Manila, and then expanded to El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Peru, and Ghana. Each organization has its own local board of directors and native staff, and is a subsidiary of Mentors International and is supervised by the US management team. Mentors International provides start-up support, training, operational funding, and loan capital for the partner organizations.
Over 4.3 million entrepreneurs are now enjoying the sweetness of prosperity because one man wanted to make a difference. They have decent housing. Their children are in school. They have at least two meals a day where one had been their norm. Nearly $77 million has been loaned through the micro-lending program with a 97% historical repayment rate.
While the world does feel good for the entrepreneurs served, many more are waiting for their opportunity.
You can make a difference, too.
Our mission: Empowering the world’s poor to grow in self-reliance through personal and business mentoring and access to financial services.
Our vision is a world where everyone has the choice to be free from extreme poverty.
Many organizations provide micro loans and training to the poor. Mentors International is different from these organizations not because of what we do, but HOW WE DO IT.
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