Monday, 2 March 2009

Self help for poverty

Normally, banks won't look at providing funds or financial services to people who have little or no income, but in many cases these are the people who need them most.  One of the better ways to help people out of poverty is by microfinance.  By this I mean a small, sometimes tiny, loan to help someone, very often a woman, start up and maintain a business, helping them to help themselves.  It is a stepping stone out of poverty. But microfinancial organisations are much more than this: they envision "a world in which as many poor and near-poor households as possible have permanent access to an appropriate range of high quality financial services, including not just credit but also savings, insurance, and fund transfers". (from Finanacial Institutions with a Double Bottom Line - pdf file).

Photo from Grameen

One of the women who have been supported in this way is Zeinab, who borrowed $45 to set up a business to make wooden pots and kitchen utensils.  She now provides employment for three of her children and owns her own workshop.  Her business has grown and she has been able to take out larger loans to continue the growth.  Her last repayment was $700, more, she says, that a local civil servant would earn in two months.

But none of this would be possible if it weren't for microfinance organisations and the people who run them.  In this case the organisation is Al-Tadamun based in Egypt and a partner of the Grameen Jameel Pan-Arab Microfinance Ltd.  Under the leadership of Reham, it has been able to lift thousands of women and their families out of poverty.  Reham herself was set on a career in the finance sector.  She realises how blessed she is to be able to use her financial training and skills in a job where she can help people survive.

Grameen Foundation has a network of 55 microfinance partners and has touched the lives of 34 million people.

UPDATED to add that my great blogging friend, RennyBA, actually met Muhammad Yunus, the founder of Grameen, when he and the Bank won the Nobel Peace Prize. That must have been amazing Renny!  Read about it on Renny's blog, and while you're there, have a look around because it will be well worth your while.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]


  1. A. I love the micro finance for women. I have a link to this site on my blog. I think it is one of the easiest and most effective ways to help.

  2. I love Grameen, and in UK Credit Unions. It always peeved me off that the poorest in society pay twice as much as the rich because of keymeters, and can't get finance bar at extortionate interest rates. Let's just hope that microfinance banks don't get too big for their roots, like our building societies did!

  3. Sue, sorry I didn't notice the link you had although I did see the post. By the way, I've added a different blog roll for issues like this, with so far The Voices and Yummy, to try to attract more readers. If you know of others that should be there, let me know.

    J,(it sounds like you) I imagine everyone would now agree than banks have no moral values whatsoever, but all corporations do it. Anyone who can't afford it, ends up paying far, far, more and you end in a vicious circle. I like the credit unions and also cooperatives set up for buying in bulk. Good point about the building societies - they used to be so holier than thou.

  4. Great post about how to empowering woman and how small steps make big changes.

    You could also add that the founder - Muhammad Yunus - of Grameen Bank, and the organisation itself achieved The Nobel Peace prise in 2006. I met him and made a post of it as well.

  5. Renny, thank you so much for that! How wonderful to have met him! I will read your post and update mine with your link in the morning (getting late for me now :) )

  6. My finances are quite micro myself, but I've enjoyed being part of a micro loan to a woman in VietNam through Kiva.

  7. @Sharkbytes, I know what you mean about finances being micro. :) I like Kiva's way of working, because you feel you have a personal interest in the people you are helping. It must take a fair amount of administration but perhaps it pays for itself by attracting more interest.

  8. This is such a wonderful foundation, particularly for women in developing countries. I will grab that badge!!

  9. Good post! These programs are great in that they make it easy for anyone to lend and then see what their money is doing. Actually, I joined Kiva but have yet to lend...need to get on that!

    Thanks so much for stopping by with the birthday wishes!

  10. I can think of nothing more effective or more helpful than micro loans. Along with water programs, it is one of the breakthrough ideas of our time. These people, and others who are at the forefront of these loan programs deserve our support.

  11. A most important work and well worth all the publicity it can get.

    PS Don't worry about the "Lost bridge". Just post it "as is" - I'll continue to post them when I find them, but I felt that that particular project was running out of "gas".

  12. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


Forethoughts, afterthoughts, any thoughts. Tell me.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin