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Mentors International (DBA Mentors International) is a 501(c)(3), nonprofit organization based in Draper, Utah, that uses microenterprise, mentoring, and business training to alleviate poverty worldwide. Mentors International was officially founded in 1990 by a group of businessmen with extensive international business and humanitarian experience in developing countries. This spearheading group knew that poverty in developing countries could be alleviated by building grassroots enterprises using microcredit and education to help the impoverished achieve self-reliance. Its current CEO and President is Mark L. Petersen.
The organization dates back to 1989 when St. Louis businessman, Menlo F. Smith, returned to the United States after working on a three-year humanitarian project in the Philippines. Smith became aware of the tremendous load carried by those who have so little during his time in the Philippines. He also became determined to find a proactive way to lift poor entrepreneurs from poverty.
Smith soon joined with Warner P. Woodworth of the Marriott School of Management at Brigham Young University and businessman Steven H. Mann, who had experience in international training, to put the process in motion. Together, they organized a group of graduate students to study opportunities and develop networking contacts in the Philippines. A strategic planning team met in Manila in September 1989 and concluded that the poor in the country could best be served by a self-help program offering microenterprise training, mentoring and microcredit.
By January 1990, Mentors was formed in St. Louis, Missouri, and its first partner organization, the Philippines Manila Development Foundation (PMDF) was organized in Manila with a local board of volunteer directors and a small staff. PMDF is now completely self-sufficient, which means all operating costs are covered through interest from the micro loans. Mentors continues to provide annual support to the PMDF Loan Fund, which is then repaid to the parent organization.
Mentors has now established seven partner organizations in all: three in the Philippines, along with organizations in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Peru. Mentors is expanding into Ghana in 2015. During Mentors' 25 years of service, over 3.6 million individuals in these countries have escaped poverty through the formation of small businesses with loans funded by Mentors.
Mentors extends loans to people of all creeds and faiths and strives to mentor clients with proven business principles to ensure successful enterprises.[no citations needed here]
Mentors was led by G. Richard Oscarson from 1997 to 2007. The current leadership team can be viewed at https://mentorsinternational.org/our-story/.
Mentors has more than 24,000 clients. The average loan is $282. Loans may vary depending upon the country and type of business. The total portfolio is $3.4 million with a default rate of 1.91%. Over 3.6 million people have been lifted out of poverty since Mentors International was founded in 1990.
Mentors organizes an annual Gala every Fall in an effort to gain interest and support for their organization. Past performers have included: The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, The Five Browns, David Archuleta, Jenny Oaks Baker, Dallyn Vail Bayles, Nathan Pacheco, and William Joseph.
Mentors also invites their donors to a luncheon every spring to thank them for their charitable contributions as well as provides them with updated financial standings and client success stories.
- Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Laura Bush Honored At International Charity Gala Called “Celebrating a Legacy of Hope”, Meridian Magazine, November 2008
- R. Scott Lloyd, "Impossible Dream Becoming Reality", Church News, November 2008