Self Help works on two levels. On the first level, we work directly with families and communities to buy homes, rebuild buildings, buy cars for families that need to be able to go to work – just very basic necessities for economic survival. And Self Help has grown, we’re almost $2 billion in assets now, we have made $6 or $7 billion of loans to poor people who have been unbelievably great borrowers and repayment. They’ve been very strong, in fact, I sometimes joke that poor people are much better credit risks than rich people are, who can always walk away and not suffer much consequence. But Self Help will never make a difference in the big social problems by doing the lending only. So we take the message – we believe that we need to take what we learn, working in communities and with families, and translate that into policy solutions. Now policy, I mean by changes, small changes in government policy or in large corporation practices.
As a young philosophy student, I thought, this is just a battle of ideas. When we present the best idea, the best idea will win. And now 30 years later, I can say with great confidence that everything that keeps poor people poor has some financial interest that profits from the status quo staying exactly the way it is. If we talk about prison reform, there are people who have a financial interest in keeping things the way they are. If we talk about finance credit or car credit or student debt, there are companies and interests that profit from keeping people dependent on debt. So I have learned that the most important skill that it takes in this battle is courage, that it’s not about brilliance. It is that once you see the problem, it takes a real fight to actually make progress.