Microcredit News ArticlesExcerpts of Key Microcredit News Articles in Media
Making tiny loans to poor entrepreneurs in developing countries has long been a popular charitable cause, but it is now gaining traction as an investment. Microfinance, as these loans are known, is aimed at lifting some of the world's most destitute people out of poverty by providing seed money for small businesses. Funding for the loans traditionally has come from charities and government-aid organizations. Now, an increasing number of private funds are steering capital to microfinance. Many of the new investment instruments have been launched by nonprofit organizations long involved in the industry, including Grameen Foundation USA, the Foundation for International Community Assistance, both in Washington. Microfinance investing got a boost this fall when eBay Inc. founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife, Pamela, gave $100 million to Tufts University to create a fund that invests in microfinance vehicles. Microfinance investment funds...lend money for small-scale businesses, such as vending fruit, weaving shawls or operating small farms in poor countries around the world. Calvert Foundation offers Community Investment Notes, which require a minimum $1,000 investment, and can be earmarked to invest in developing countries or other initiatives, including post-Katrina recovery on the Gulf Coast.
Note: Microfinance is one of the most empowering movements in the world. When we let go of our fears around finances and put our money where our heart is, we invite major transformation into both our personal lives and our world. For how to get involved, see http://www.WantToKnow.info/051023microcredit
It would be nice to think that women who achieve power would want to help women at the bottom. But one continuing global drama underscores that women in power can be every bit as contemptible as men. Sheikh Hasina, prime minister of Bangladesh, is mounting a scorched-earth offensive against Muhammad Yunus, the founder of Grameen Bank and champion of the economic empowerment of women around the world. Yunus, 72, won a Nobel Peace Prize for his pioneering work in microfinance, focused on helping women lift their families out of poverty. Yet Sheikh Hasina’s government has already driven Yunus from his job as managing director of Grameen Bank. Worse, since last month, her government has tried to seize control of the bank from its 5.5 million small-time shareholders, almost all of them women, who collectively own more than 95 percent of the bank. The government has also started various investigations of Yunus and his finances and taxes, and his supporters fear that he might be arrested on some pretext or another.
Note: To sign a petition to the Bangladeshi PM to stop government intervention in this empowering bank, click here. For excellent information on the amazing Grameen Bank and microlending movement, click here.
Shivani Siroya was one of 19 entrepreneurs at this year's Global Social Benefit Incubator who have been undergoing a critical evaluation from this group, whose members also include venture capitalists and experts in social enterprise. Beyond building successful enterprises, the incubator wants ones that alleviate social needs. "People are not going to give money to you indefinitely, even if you're doing some good in the world. So we have to help these entrepreneurs develop sound business models that will flourish and last," said Eric Carlson, director of the incubator and dean's executive professor in the Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University. This year's gathering brought together more than 150 mentors, who will continue to work with these enterprises into the fall. One is Jeff Miller, former director of Santa Clara's Center for Science, Technology and Society. He's been an adviser since the program's inception and sees one common thread in many of the young people. "They have such huge, wonderful, passionate visions of how to change the world in energy, water, education and more. But they lack focus. So we encourage them to look at an area that they can focus on and make an impact. This can be a particular demographic or region, which makes for a more concentrated effort." Impact investing, an emerging field for social effect as well as monetary return, has been gaining prominence. But Miller and Carlson are cautious, noting that the area needs to mature and develop an infrastructure. Yet it's quickly become a topic of discussion at the incubator.
Note: For information on microlending, one of the highest impact forms of investing for eliminating poverty in our world while still gaining interest on investment, click here.
California first lady Maria Shriver told 1,000-odd attendees at the Microfinance USA 2010 conference in San Francisco. "Maybe I need a loan, too." Actually, she admitted offstage, her 2-year-old company, Lovin' Scoopful, whose "gourmet light" ice cream is on grocery shelves in 22 states, is doing quite well. And Shriver was at the conference to give rather than receive. Not only to cheer on the burgeoning microfinance movement, but to give $300,000 from her nonprofit Women's Conference organization to various microfinance organizations, including San Francisco's Kiva.org - Shriver heads one of its "lending teams" - and San Jose's Opportunity Fund, which put on the two-day conference. But that was a small tip of the growing amount of serious money flowing into the sector. "Banks, especially since they've come under more scrutiny, realize getting involved in microfinance is good business," said Premal Shah, president of Kiva. "Bringing more people into the economic mainstream ultimately brings them more customers." But with the coming of age also come pitfalls, as Kiva and others have found. A New York Times story last month ... about the seemingly usurious rates of interest some lenders were charging created a stir in the microfinance community.
Note: To learn more about how you can help to end poverty through investing in microloans, click here.
A Peruvian widow borrowed $64 and bought a few pigs. For $55, a villager in Ghana went into the mineral-water trade. A mother of nine in Guatemala upgraded her grocery store with $250. These women from three continents have something in common: They are beneficiaries of microcredit - very small loans to very poor people for very small businesses. The benefactors, in many cases, are ordinary individuals inspired by a movement that is reshaping philanthropy. More and more of us are becoming convinced that lending even tiny amounts of money to destitute people in the developing world can transform lives - theirs and ours. "My life has changed because of this loan," said 27-year-old Patience Asare-Boateng, in a phone interview from Ghana. "This is something that people want: a sense of connection and a sense of community," said Bob Graham, founder of NamasteDirect, a microcredit organization in San Francisco. "Because it's decreasing in our daily lives." The microcredit approach carved out in Bangladesh three decades ago by 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus has inspired a war on poverty that blends social conscience and business savvy - especially in Northern California. Although Yunus, widely regarded as the father of the modern microcredit movement, made his first loan in 1976 and established Grameen Bank - lending to the poorest of the poor - 24 years ago, microlending only recently started seeping into public consciousness.
Note: For more inspiring information on the microcredit movement founded by Nobel Prize-winner Muhammad Yunus, click here.
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