How HOPE began

In 1997, with just 12 loans, HOPE International began serving in the city of Zaporozhye in post-Soviet Ukraine. But there were a few twists and turns—and some important lessons learned—that led to our founding. Watch HOPE’s origin story.

Our story

Following the fall of the Soviet Union in Ukraine in the early 1990s, Jeff Rutt, a Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based homebuilder, traveled to Ukraine numerous times with his church, transporting containers of food, clothing, and medical supplies to the city of Zaporozhye.

After several of these visits, a local pastor pulled Jeff aside and told him honestly that the shipments were not helping. Instead of handouts, the pastor felt that his community needed a hand up.

Though people were accessing needed supplies, they had become dependent on American charity. In addition, local businesses could not compete with the free handouts. The well-intentioned aid shipments were actually doing more harm than good by depressing local industry and initiative.

Jeff returned from the trip with a strong drive to find a solution. He plunged into research and eventually discovered the concept of microenterprise development, then a little-known poverty alleviation strategy.

Peter Greer, HOPE's current president, joined HOPE in 2004, ushering in a period of strategic growth and increased public awareness. Under Peter's leadership, HOPE has grown to serve in 16 countries around the world.

Jeff Rutt, HOPE International's Founder



HOPE is officially established as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Paul and Cindy Marty relocate to Ukraine to spearhead HOPE’s first program. They also begin Tomorrow Clubs, a children’s ministry to love and disciple Ukrainian children.


The first loans are disbursed in Ukraine.


Peter Greer becomes HOPE’s president, and HOPE distributes our 10,000th loan.


HOPE establishes partnerships with Esperanza International in the Dominican Republic, Urwego in Rwanda, and Invest-Credit in Moldova.


By February, HOPE has disbursed close to 100,000 loans with a net portfolio outstanding of $6 million. HOPE partners with ROMCOM in Romania and the Center for Community Transformation in the Philippines. HOPE also launches a savings group program in Rwanda. Desiring to remain Christ-centered, HOPE implements yearly spiritual integration plans for each program and partner.


HOPE partners with Turame Community Finance in Burundi.


HOPE partners with local churches in Haiti to start a savings group program. Desiring to invest in HOPE's financial future, a donor generously provides the funds to establish the HOPE International Loan Endowment.


HOPE articulates our three strategic goals: Christ-centeredness, quality, and growth. In pursuit of these goals, we distribute our 1 millionth loan and begin operating in the Republic of Congo. We partner with Crown Financial Ministries to show the God Provides films to the families we serve.


HOPE expands our savings group program into Zimbabwe and Peru.


HOPE starts a savings group program in Burundi.


HOPE starts a savings group program in Malawi and celebrates the distribution of our 2 millionth loan. In keeping with HOPE’s commitment to generosity, HOPE creates the philanthropic dividend policy, in which HOPE-managed microfinance institutions give away a portion of profits to support local programs for children and youth.


HOPE deepens discipleship by piloting opt-in Bible studies led by local pastors for clients interested in additional discipleship.


HOPE launches a savings group program in Zambia and reaches our goal of having at least one active church partner in all HOPE-managed microfinance offices.


HOPE becomes majority shareholder of Urwego Bank and Turame Community Finance, our longstanding microfinance partners in Rwanda and Burundi respectively.


HOPE celebrates 20 years of coming alongside and investing in the dreams of families in the world’s underserved communities.

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