Microfinance Miracles
Mother Teo’s St Jude Story

Our origin story began in 2013 when Deacon Dr. Donald Grossnickle of Arlington Heights, Illinois, visited Uganda.

It was in the region of Nakifuma that Deacon Don first met midwife Mother Teo (as she is known by her community). At that time, Teo’s clinic was virtually bankrupt. Deacon Don toured the dismal, makeshift facility. The desperate need for medication, supplies, and equipment was heartbreaking.

Deacon Don walked with Teo for some time and listened to her seemingly insurmountable challenges. “Banks can be heartless”, said Teo, painfully recounting begging for a bank loan. The bankers refused her tearful pleas, as she admitted that her practice was to care for patients regardless of their ability to pay. Her generosity had led to an unsustainable situation, but closing the St Jude that she had scraped to keep afloat sine the 1970’s was unthinkable.

Deacon Don returned to the U.S. and Immediately began brainstorming ideas to provide medical help in Uganda. Don collected help from family and friends, but it was not nearly enough.

Deacon Don and Teo needed a breakthrough. They reasoned that new equipment and services could attract clients who are able to pay for services. This insight proved to be a breakthrough that totally changed the economy of running Teo’s clinic.  Fees from paying patients would help top support the charitable demands of the clinic. An U.S. friend donated a microscope, an ultrasound, and a donated medicine dispensary started the project on its way to sustainability.

In addition, donations from U.S. investors who believed in Teo’s compassionate cause began to help pay bills. It was not enough to meet the demand of 20 or more mothers and babies begging for free treatment each day.

A brainstorming meeting was convened attended by Teo, Deacon Don, local leaders, Teo’s nurse midwife daughter, a doctor, and a priest. For hours the group developed the idea to start a small farm whose profits could make up for ongoing deficits. Father Wencislaus, a nephew of Teo had previously organized a similar plan which was devised to keep a boarding school open after it suffered financial struggles. A pig farm was suggested with an estimated startup cost of $5,000

Teo and Don

Deacon Don traveled back to the US on a mission to find one or more investors to support the plan to save St Jude.

St. Raymond’s Catholic Parish allocated a Lent appeal and offered the $5000 to microfinance the project. The parish did not expect repayment. They asked for progress reports detailing miracle stories to help them  feel connected to this investment in solidarity.

The St. Jude Agribusiness Microfinance Model was born, and good management helped St Jude prosper. The expansion of the concept led to the remodeling of the facility. Additional generous microfinance investing led to the construction of a $25,000, well-equipped, modern, government-approved surgical center. These successes allowed Teo to successfully apply to a bank for a loan she used to build a retail pharmacy that generated additional income to offset ongoing unpaid bills from clients unable to pay.

The successes of St. Jude’s projects and the wisdom gained during the process, motivated Deacon Don Grossnickle to create a 501c3 charitable organization called Microfinance Africa Alliance Foundation(MAAPF).

The model of exporting the microfinance concept including a brave search for generous investors came to life.

Mother Teo and Deacon Don give all credit to generous investors who are willing to help ambitious communities test their abilities to embrace the microfinance model.

Today, MAAPF has 21 additional clinics with associated agribusiness projects. More and more communities look for generous investors willing to embrace a commitment to women and children; bringing miracles to life.

St. Jude's Clinic