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Tunes for Tanzania–who knew a Tuesday could be this good?

By Lauren Anderson

While everyone seemed moved by the goal of building a bank in Tanzania, as I gauged from the robust rounds of applause, Tuesday’s Tunes for Tanzania event was also just a good time for all. We packed into Schubas in Chicago to listen to the music of three different bands; we strategized to win tantalizing raffle prizes; and all around the room, circles of people kept morphing to make new conversations. It was a room full of YAO members, their friends, and people who’d heard about the event online and wanted to support microfinance.

Rachel McClusky got things off pumping. She packs a Britney Spears-esque pop. You hope you’re not ever a boy who has wronged her or you might show up in one of her catchy, melodic songs. McClusky may be young but she carries herself like a veteran singer, and she got everyone in the mood for the night of music and microfinance.

Watch a clip of Rachel McClusky’s performance

Ivory Coats followed up with a classic indie style–a unique blend of melody, vocals and a dash of rock. At this point, the venue was comfortably crowded: you might brush someone to get by, but you could get around the room.

Watch the Ivory Coats

From the stage, emcees Rohit Dhake and Amanda Britt kept the energy high in between sets. After Ivory Coats’s set, Amanda shared the story of how she first got involved with YAO–her meeting with a young girl in Oaxaca, Mexico named Jacqueline–and why she’s committed to helping people like Jacqueline and her family through microfinance. Then, YAO presented their new video that shared why there’s a need for Opportunity International’s work. It reminded us why we were there–to support microfinance in Tanzania, and to give back to people who need it most.

Hear Amanda Britt’s story of why she’s involved with YAO

Raffle tickets sold throughout the night–$1 per ticket or $10 for an arm’s length. One entrepreneurial fellow offered $25 for his whole wingspan’s worth. We are supporting entrepreneurs and are often entrepreneurs ourselves.

As the lights dimmed, Go Long Mule took us home with their great self-described “folk’ n’ roll”-style set. We could feel the beats through the floorboards. Most of the 150+ attendees stayed the entire time in hopes of winning one of the excellent dozen or so prizes, especially four pre-season Bears tickets, the highlight of the night.

Watch a clip of Go Long Mule

I overheard a couple planning their ticket strategy: she placed one in the yoga class and he would put one in the Bears, she put one in the cooking class and he would put another one in for the Bears, and so on. In the end, Rohit took the stage and in a booming TV game show host voice, announced the winners of the raffle prizes, which ranged from cooking classes to spa gift certificates to Sony electronics. YAO member Neal Drumm was the big winner who took home the coveted grand prize Bears tickets.

Rohit Dhake heightens the suspense as he announces winner of Bears tickets

Tunes was well worth mucking through the November showers, not just for the great people and music, but for the impact in it will have in Tanzania.

This post was written by Lauren Anderson. Lauren has been a YAO member since early 2011. She is working on a contract from the International Labor Organization. Thanks to her familiarity with Opportunity, she incorporated microfinancing into the chapter she wrote for an upcoming textbook on women’s health.

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