+ Member of the Moment: Circuit International
Ruth and Stu Corlett started Circuit International
in 2007 and were based in Thailand with their 3 children for 8 years, doing cross-border development work in Myanmar. Since 2015 they have been based in NZ, with a focus on starting up community businesses in Myanmar, to fund sustainable development programmes.
Their implementing partner in Myanmar – the Love Conquers All foundation, has five local staff and hundreds of community volunteers running the programmes. The local team is made up of a mix of ethnicities and religious affiliations which is a great model of unity to the communities.
Recently Circuit's annual Matching Funds month raised over $80,000 for the Seed Bank programme to purchase a mobile grain-drying machine, build a small factory, and hire three more local staff to oversee the programme.
This programme helps farming families living below the poverty line, who are in danger of becoming debt slaves to corrupt money-lenders, and losing their land or having no choice but to ‘sell’ their children to trafficking agents to be sent to China as brides, or to Thailand as prostitutes. One of the newly appointed staff is from the first community the Seed Bank programme was started in, in 2016, and because her family were able to stay out of debt, she (and a friend) have avoided being ‘sold’ to work in Thailand, and she can now engage in safe work to help her community.
The Seed Bank programme loans seed and fertiliser to farmers (many of whom are women) at a low interest rate. It works alongside the Grain Storage programme, which enables farmers to store their dry grain in special bags until the peak of the market, further helping farmers avoid debt. In recent months a Seed Bank project was started in a conflict zone where the community leader has asked Circuit to help farmers reach the point where they can replace their opium fields with speciality coffee bushes.
The Seed Bank project is the first step towards seeing this happen.
Circuit's mission is: Connecting People, Doing Business with Justice, Enabling Sustainable Development.