What is the difference between iZōsh® International and iZōsh?

iZōsh International is the 501(c) 3 non-profit organization dedicated to creating iZōsh Chapters. An iZōsh Chapter can be started by a group of women in a Christian Church in cooperation with iZōsh International. iZōsh International does not directly fund micro-loans, this is done at iZōsh Chapter Events. iZōsh.org/AnnArbor is the founding Chapter of iZōsh.


The name iZōsh comes from the Amharic language, spoken in Ethiopia. It is a word that means many things, but can be explained as “compassionate support of a woman.”

What is the definition of “extreme poverty”?

We certainly have poverty in North America. However, the definition of women who live in “extreme poverty” is that they are in areas where they live on less than the equivalent of two US dollars per day.[1] These women often do not have basic services such as: adequate health care, clean water, electricity, and any means to handle sanitation. In North America we do have such basic services and also some governmental supports to assist women in poverty here.

We have become aware how many North American women don’t really understand how blessed we are just to be able to live in North America where extreme poverty, per the definition, does not exist. Many iZōsh members are actively involved in the efforts to help local women in poverty. We do not want to diminish those efforts. They should be encouraged. The mission of iZōsh however, focuses our efforts to extreme poverty globally.

[1]World Bank Forecasts Global Poverty to Fall Below 10% for First Time; Major Hurdles Remain in Goal to End Poverty by 2030”, retrieved 7/28/16

Why are only women included?

At our Events we learn about and discuss topics dealing with the ways that women in extreme poverty are exploited including: female genital mutilation, fistulas, rape, prostitution, etc. These are topics that both men and women need to know about. However, some women, particularly those who may have personal experience with any of these traumas, may not feel comfortable in a mixed group. We want to be a safe place, which is why at many Events we have a Supportive Response Coordinator available to provide comfort and support if needed.

Why Should We Start a Chapter?

Starting an iZōsh Chapter means that you are participating in a movement that commits to specific women across the globe who have developed a plan to lift themselves and their family out of extreme poverty. Join so they can count on you, join so that iZōsh will continue to be there, join because your partnership is desperately needed. You will be connected to a wonderful community of women who care.

Why should I donate to iZōsh International?

A movement needs momentum. When more iZōsh Chapters are created, more loans are funded and more women are empowered. The money donated to iZōsh International will go towards the formation of iZōsh Chapters. As the number of Chapters grow, so will the movement…be a part of that!

If you cannot attend a Chapter Event, but would like to fund loans with a local group, contact the Chapter to discuss how to provide your donation.

What is a Microfinance Institution?

A bank that specializes in services for low-income groups or individuals. A microfinance institution provides loans to individuals or groups that may otherwise not qualify. Often these banks exist in developing areas where small dollar loans are needed. A microfinance institution may assist with savings plans or provide insurance opportunities for individuals. Transaction services are also available for amounts that may be smaller than the average transaction fees charged by mainstream financial institutions.

What happens to the loan amount when it is repaid?

The loan amount is not repaid to an iZōsh Chapter. It is repaid to the microfinance institution (MFI) that services the loan. Then those dollars are re-invested so that another loan is granted by the MFI. This happens over and over which results in continually leveraging the initial loan amount over time.

How do we know the women will use the money for what they say they will?

Opportunity International is a microfinance institution (MFI) that is regulated by the banking industry and they have loan officers who provide due diligence on all of the loans, including monitoring for fraud.

Kiva calls the microfinance institutions (MFIs) that they connect us to through their internet portal “Field Partners.” Those Field Partners also have loan officers who provide due diligence and monitoring on all of the loans.

Do I get a tax deduction?

iZōsh International will provide tax-deductible receipts in January for the year prior during which donations were made. Each iZōsh Chapter will determine if tax receipts will be given for gifts/donations made at Events for loan funding purposes.

Who took all the fabulous photos on this site?

Aileen Burke Photography is responsible for all the photos unless otherwise noted.

Start a Chapter Now