Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.
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"Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime"
According to Unitus, half of the world's population lives on $2 a day or less.
What is Microfinance?
Microfinance refers to financial services provided to low-income people, usually to help support self-employment. Examples of microfinance products include: small loans, savings plans, insurance, payment tranfers, and other services that are provided in small increments that low-income individuals can afford. These services help families to start and build "micro" enterprises, the very small businesses that are important sources of employment, income, and economic vitality in developing countries worldwide.
Because salaried or wage-paying jobs are scarce in many developing countries, most citizens earn their livings through self-employment, creating and operating their own tiny enterprises. But without financial services to fuel their productivity, the poor can never grow their microenterprises into businesses that help them escape poverty. The microfinance movement was born to ease the suffering caused by poverty, and to awaken the global economy's sleeping giant: the under-capitalized productivity of the world's working poor.
"Microfinance is an idea whose time has come."
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2006, divided into two equal parts, to Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank for their efforts to create economic and social development...Lasting peace can not be achieved unless large population groups find ways in which to break out of poverty. Micro-credit is one such means.
What is Village Banking?
By providing very poor families with small loans to invest in their microenterprises, Village Banking empowers them to create their own jobs, raise their incomes, build assets, and increase their families' well-being. Here's how it works. Neighbors come together in financial support groups called "Village Banks." Individuals borrow working capital for their microenterprises, and because they have little to offer for collateral, the group guarantees those loans. As businesses grow, families earn more, purchase more nutritious foods, and parents are better able to send their children to school. After a year or more, many Village Bankers make significant improvements to their businesses, their homes, and their lives. Because neighbors support each other while growing their businesses, Village Banking helps invigorate entire communities.
The following organizations have proven track records in Microfinance. By supporting their work, you will help to eliviate global poverty through their innovative work of investing in people and small businesses around the world which help to sustain families, communities, and countries.
FINCA International provides financial services to the world's lowest-income entrepreneurs so they can create jobs, build assets and improve their standard of living. We target the poorest of the working poor: those who have the least access to services such as loans, savings programs, and insurance. Our clients include women, who make up 70 percent of the world's poor; individuals unable to find work in the formal sector; families displaced by war and internal conflict; the rural poor; and those affected by chronic poverty. With more than 20 years' experience and over 500,000 clients on four continents, FINCA offers a proven solution to poverty.
FINCA today reaches 700,000 clients in 21 countries. But the scope of global poverty compels us all to do more. At the beginning of the new century, the nations of the world agreed to work toward eight Millennium Development Goals that would eliminate extreme poverty and hunger by 2015.
Grameen Bank (GB) has reversed conventional banking practice by removing the need for collateral and created a banking system based on mutual trust, accountability, participation and creativity. GB provides credit to the poorest of the poor in rural Bangladesh, without any collateral. At GB, credit is a cost effective weapon to fight poverty and it serves as a catalyst in the over all development of socio-economic conditions of the poor who have been kept outside the banking orbit on the ground that they are poor and hence not bankable. Professor Muhammad Yunus, the founder of "Grameen Bank" and its Managing Director, reasoned that if financial resources can be made available to the poor people on terms and conditions that are appropriate and reasonable, "these millions of small people with their millions of small pursuits can add up to create the biggest development wonder."
As of September, 2008, it has 7.58 million borrowers, 97 percent of whom are women. With 2,530 branches, GB provides services in 83,178 villages, covering more than 99 percent of the total villages in Bangladesh.
Kiva's mission is to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty.
Kiva is the world's first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs in the developing world.
The people you see on Kiva's site are real individuals in need of funding - not marketing material. When you browse entrepreneurs' profiles on the site, choose someone to lend to, and then make a loan, you are helping a real person make great strides towards economic independence and improve life for themselves, their family, and their community. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive email journal updates and track repayments. Then, when you get your loan money back, you can relend to someone else in need.
Unitus, an international nonprofit organization, works to reduce global poverty by increasing access to life-changing microfinance services.
For millions of families around the world, microfinance means the opportunity for a successful small business and more: better healthcare and housing, increased household savings, education for their children, and ultimately, the real possibility of self-sufficiency. Microfinance services include small loans to start or support microenterprises, health and other types of insurance, and savings programs designed to serve the poor.
The need is staggering-nearly half of the world's population lives on $2 a day or less. To reach the most people in need as quickly as possible, Unitus seeks out and partners with young, high-potential microfinance institutions (MFIs), helping them build capacity, attract capital, and achieve exponential growth. Through this leveraged approach, Unitus seeks to empower millions of the world's working poor while transforming the financial systems now left out of their reach.
Rather than directly providing microfinance services, Unitus connects the ambitious, visionary social entrepreneurs who lead our partner MFIs with the business expertise, capital investments, and innovative tools and services required to grow faster, dream bigger, and reach farther. Their success in turn provides hope and opportunity for thousands who would otherwise remain stuck in the downward cycle of devastating poverty.
Please click here for the FAQs about Microfinance
Note: Information on Microfinance compiled from the websites listed above.
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FINCA International provides financial services to the world's lowest-income entrepreneurs.