Featuring a Q&A with our Executive Director, Jereme Lambert

The idiom “Passing the Torch” comes from Ancient Greece. Though many think its origin lies in their infamous Olympic Games, it is actually a religious ritual in the form of a relay race using a lit torch. This was done to honor gods and goddesses such as Athena and Hestia represented there. Now, it is a phrase used to represent giving over responsibility to someone who deserves it. It means trusting one’s successor to complete the task at hand with honor.

Essentially, The Angel Alliance Fund embodies this idiom, ‘Passing the Torch,’ to empower communities without the benefits of established infrastructure and business. TAAF uses business to create business. Empowering an entrepreneur through Angel Alliance means passing the torch and creating hope for water-deprived communities. 

The Angel Alliance Fund Vision

The Angel Alliance Fund is built to provide micro-loans to emerging entrepreneurs in developing countries like Asia, Latin America, and Africa. By correctly timing and distributing this capital, these businesses can strengthen their supply chain and better meet their real water needs. To be able to achieve business success, individuals must have something to work with. Angel Alliance does just that: gives opportunity to those without it. 

Not Just A ‘Spend’ Donation 

There are many charities that provide clean water. Many are pipeline charities that seem to buy products for those who need them. Though this approach is generous and reputable, this money is spent already; it is used up. The Angel Alliance Fund is different. Capital is distributed to small business owners in the global south on a cyclic basis (not all at once). Placement of the capital is negotiated by the TAAF financial team. With over 50 years of combined experience, the TAAF financial team makes reputable and wise decisions about where to invest.

Q&A With our Executive Director, Jereme Lambert 

I was able to interview Jereme Lambert, the executive director of Connect for Water. Like many others associated with Business Connect and Connect for Water, Jereme has had firsthand experience with several global partnerships and truly understands business operations.

How do you find these worldwide entrepreneurs? 

JL: They come two different ways: they do reach out to us directly sometimes, but typically it comes through a partnership with Business Connect. There are entrepreneurs on the ground that we get to know through travels, through being in-country. The TAAF is based on relationships, even if someone reaches out to us, we usually spend a little time getting to know them before we would invest in their project. 

Most come through interpersonal relationships. 

And that was really the catalyst of it– which was knowing we could give a hand-up to people and create an economic difference. The unique aspect of how we do work at Connect For Water is through economic change, not just a giveaway. 

Have you had any personal experience, either domestically or internationally, with a specific group that has influenced your heart behind this mission? 

JL: There’s been a lot of things for me personally that has led to this. In growing several businesses that I’ve run– in business you talk a lot about how cash is king. In traveling to these developing worlds, there isn’t access to that cash. There isn’t the ability to raise your business to the next level. You can have just as brilliant of people, with all the skills–and more skills than I’ve ever had–and they just don’t have the capital. They’re just stuck. It really came out out of years of business experience for me, but also watching international development work that said,

 ‘This can be done differently, more than just charity work.’  

So what I hear you saying is… this is sort of an equity thing, just being able to grant that opportunity? 

JL: Yes. Absolutely. It’s building into their life, into their business, it absolutely is an equity thing. That’s why it’s the ‘Angel’ Alliance… it is an angel coming in, giving these people a hand-up. 

Why should any person give to the Angel Alliance Fund? 

JL: I think people are tired of just giving the same gift each year. This is a repeating gift, a new way, a different way, a better way to bring change in people’s lives. It isn’t an ‘every December I’ve gotta write a check,’ this is a fund that is renewing, and makes a difference, a larger difference with every dollar that’s brought in. 

Can someone be sure their contribution will target the right niche? 

JL: That’s a frequently asked question! There’s always a risk when it comes to the global south, so I cannot say there isn’t risk. We do base it on long-standing relationships and 100% of the money received goes to the recipients. In addition, we also have a group of advisors that help us decide on the strongest business plan.

What is the process for the entrepreneur to request a loan? Do they need to submit a business plan or anything else for review?

JL: It is a business plan that has to be submitted. We have to talk through what they want, and they also have to have a sales plan: a projection for how they’ll sell that product within the first six months. So it’s a business plan and a specific sales plan for their channels. Within the sales plan, we want to check for if they know their competitors if they know the sales channels they have… if they have a good path forward. 

How does the money come back to the fund? Is there interest or a payment schedule?

JL: It is a payment schedule, so it’s typically a monthly payment. Based on what they sell, they pay back, and that goes back into the fund. There’s no interest–the loans are based on product. As they sell products, they put the funds back. They pay back the product they sold that month. 

Your Challenge 

Make The Angel Alliance Fund your holiday gift. If you have your water needs covered for the holiday season, think of those who may not. It is clear TAAF is a gift that grows exponentially for families across the globe. Though you may not see them, they will feel your support. Trust those who know their community’s needs best. Pass the torch for Giving Tuesday, this holiday season, here.