Hearts & Minds - Information for ChangeSM

Investing in Women, Investing in the Future
One of the best ways to help end poverty

Women account for 70% of the world’s poorest population. But they may hold the key to ending extreme poverty.

The Current Imbalance
The US Congress reports that in most countries women work twice as much unpaid time as men. They produce 55% of all food grown in developing countries and clock in two-thirds of the world’s working hours.

Yet women receive only 10% of the world’s income, and own less than 1% of the world’s property.

However, recent studies show how women across the globe can lift themselves from this unjust situation – and how, in doing so, they can contribute to the movement against world poverty.

Micro-Loans for Macro-Benefit
In the 2005 Congress Report on women, then Senator Joe Biden stated that “microcredit is a stunningly simple, inexpensive tool that can forever alter the economic landscape for the better.”

Microcredit involves loaning a small amount of money directly to a struggling individual. The borrower uses the loan to start self-employment projects. Profits from her small business fuel her success. She then pay back the loan, freeing this money for other loans to help others lift themselves from poverty.

Women already constitute 80% of the total 70 million microcredit borrowers in the world, and with good reason: studies show that they have superior repayment rates, invest more productively, and are more careful than their male counterparts. Furthermore, when a woman saves money, she is more likely to spend it on her family - and thriving families lead to thriving communities.

Success Stories
John Hatch, President of the Foundation for International Community Assistance, highlighted the potential of the microloan: “In the third world, a woman with $50 can move a table out on the sidewalk, buy vegetables, and get into business right away.”

In some cases, success really is that simple. After Marinela Castillo of La Paz nearly lost her baking business in a hurricane, a loan of just a few hundred dollars allowed her to repair her oven. Today, she bakes 1,000 loaves a day.

In São Paolo, seamstress Francisca Luciavello struggled for years with outdated equipment. After receiving a $350 loan, she was able to buy a new sewing machine. Her business was soon profitable enough for her to hire three new assistants.

The story of Afghani Kamela Sediqi is particularly inspiring. In 1996, she was able to start her own tailoring business using a loan of only $100. For years, she saved her profits, she had $50,000. With this, she began a construction company now employs over 200 Afghani women, is involved with several public works projects, and generates yearly revenue of $28,000.

How You Can Help
Thousands of women like Castillo, Luciavello, and Sediqi are making similar efforts to rise out of poverty - and millions more could with your help. We're adding a list of microloaning organizations to make a small donation for a big difference today.

However, by themselves, even these organizations are not enough. To truly achieve the end of extreme poverty for millions of the world's poorest women and for their families, we require government action. Here's a letter you can send to your congressman today.

In 2006, The Economist strikingly claimed that women are “arguably the most powerful engine of global growth.” All they need is our fuel. And even this need is only temporary - given the starting loan, they can work with us to leave extreme poverty in our dust.

Hearts & Minds End Poverty Campaign logo links to more on how you can help END extreme hunger and poverty worldwide

Join the End Poverty CampaignSM  |  More on Ending Hunger and Poverty

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by Kerry Dagastino, Hearts & Minds volunteer
Copyrights: Entire website © 1997 - 2015 by Hearts and Minds Network, Inc. This web page - http://www.heartsandminds.org/poverty/womenloans.htm - online July 9, 2009, latest changes July 9, 2009


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