Why do you give a loan to a struggling entrepreneur in a developing country when somebody buys or sells their house with you as their Realtor?
Chances are, you could not buy a house if you couldn’t get a loan. Much of the world’s poor have no access to loans or other banking services, making it next to impossible for them to own their home or expand their struggling business. Why not give a loan to someone else when you get a loan to buy your house? Someone who really needs it. What if, when you achieved your dream of home ownership, someone else’s dream was tied together with it?
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My name is Jay McGee. I live in Richmond, VA with my wife Kristen and our cuter than average kids.
Before the kids, before Richmond, we lived in Indonesia.
Kristen and I met in the summer of ’05 at a graduate program for linguistics at the University of Oregon. We were both working for SIL International, a nonprofit that does a lot of work in poor countries. Mostly though, their focus is literacy and language development. In college, Kristen was a bit of a classical languages nerd. I liked traveling to countries I’d never been to and trying new things, and I loved picking up new languages. You know how things go when you find a beautiful, smart blonde who loves frozen pizza and wants to save the world… we got married the next year. But her dad said he wouldn’t give her up for nothing- he wanted a hand-made woodstrip canoe in exchange for his daughter.
A lot of people’s engagement stories involve a ring and a beautiful mountain top. Or maybe a skyscraper and New York city lights twinkling against the backdrop of an enchanted night. I learned how to do woodworking and built a 16′ canoe out of Sitka Spruce and Mahogany. Then I strapped it on my friend’s 1986 Subaru wagon and drove it from Oregon to Tucson, AZ to deliver it to her dad (that sappy engagement story can be read here).
So with our nerdy bent towards linguistics and an earnest desire to do some good work in a hurting world, we got married and moved to Indonesia to work on literacy and language development.
We were in it for the long haul. We were going to raise our kids there and everything. Little jungle babies. At least that’s what we thought. I had lived in Indonesia the year before, doing tsunami relief after the big tsunami of Dec 26, 2004. Conditions were bad, but I never got sick. 2 years later, I took my new wife back with me to Indonesia and within a week of getting off the plane I had dengue fever. After that, sickness was a way of life for me. I spent 6 months of 2008 in bed. There was the dengue fever, then the parasites, amoebas, reactions to antibiotics, and a couple mystery tropical illnesses that no one could ever figure out. I lost over 30 lbs and I didn’t have much weight to lose to begin with. By the end of it, I seriously think I had the same stats as Miss Texas- 5’10”, 125 lbs, bulimic (but that was the parasite’s decision- not mine), and a firm proponent for “world peace.”
And then, somehow, in our little house in the middle of Jakarta, Kristen became pregnant. We were less concerned with tropical diseases than we were with the medical care in Indonesia that would treat us when we…when our new baby… would inevitably become sick.
Kristen spent her pregnancy in Indonesia but we came back to the States for Sam’s birth. With this new life, a new chapter in our lives began. We were not going back to Indonesia. And I did the most natural thing that anyone can do after being a non-profit literacy development worker in a poor country: I became a Realtor.
If you or someone you know would like to learn how I help people buy and sell their homes, contact me on the buy/sell page.