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AFAWI
The Alliance for African Women Initiative (AFAWI) is an organization that was founded in 2005 to support people, particularly women, affected by HIV/AIDS in Ghana.

The key founders of the organization were Yaw Adu Dartey, Eva Asiedu and Kwesi Agyei, the man whose vision led to the foundation of the group. Through the understanding that HIV/AIDS is a key component of women’s health, this organization sought to fight this grave disease and its effects on women, children and society as a whole.

Acting as a grassroots organization, AFAWI leads projects to empower women, people living with HIV/AIDS and other marginalized groups in the community. It also works with different international organizations to create sustainable development initiatives.

One of AFAWI’s projects is the clothing cooperative that urges women to use their skills to manufacture clothes made from 100 percent Ghanaian materials.  The livelihood project offers loans with a low monthly interest rate to women who are in need of initial capital for their businesses.

Another initiative is the healthy menstrual management project, which is an initiative supported by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) to help girls stay in school during menstruation. The women in the oil industry project seek to empower women through education and employment opportunities in the oil industry in order to aid economic development.

Another long-term project run by AFAWI is the ECCACHILD project, which seeks to meet the needs of the most vulnerable children in communities surrounding Accra. Many of the children have been orphaned by the AIDS epidemic. As a result of this project, about 50 children have been enrolled in the National Health Insurance Scheme to give them access to free medical services.

AFAWI has also taken on the issue of gender mainstreaming in development projects. At a 2014 meeting with SEND Ghana, the topic was addressed: “Gender mainstreaming means providing equal access to men and women, for controlling over resources, decision making and benefits at all stages of the development process and projects,” states an article about the meeting on the AFAWI website.

“Gender mainstreaming is not about women being given more power than men, but rather about equalizing the playing field. Giving women the opportunity to empower themselves and close the gap between the sexes.”

AFAWI’s goal is to ensure projects and policies are constructed to empower women in their communities. “AFAWI’s microfinance program has allowed many women to start their own businesses,” says the article. “Not only do they now earn their own income but AFAWI also provides training to ensure the women understand the importance of business structure and saving.”

Although the project also helps vulnerable and needy children, focusing on women is vital. Gender equality is a necessary prerequisite to leading a developing country like Ghana toward being more developed, both economically and socially. Since women tend to make up the majority of the poor and marginalized in developing countries, empowering them and incorporating them into the nation’s development is necessary for growth.

As Dr. Emmanuel Kwegyir-Aggrey states, “Educate a woman, and you educate a whole family.” AFAWI’s efforts to improve gender equality and, in turn, women’s and children’s standing and opportunities in society, therefore, is a great contribution to fighting poverty.

Vanessa Awanyo

Sources: Alliance for African Women Initiative 1, Verge Magazine, Alliance for African Women Initiative 2
Photo: One World 365

shared_interest
For 21 years, Shared Interest has helped end poverty in South Africa by connecting farmers and handicraft makers with legitimate and supportive investors. In 1994, South Africa had its first democratic elections, and Shared Interest was launched to help bring South Africa out of poverty. The organization was initially started by black South Africans, who had been sent into exile, in the United States in 1985. Shared Interest established a partner organization called the Thembani International Guarantee Fund in South Africa in 1995 to work with banks to invest in low-income black townships and rural communities and help bring them out of poverty.

Shared Interest is the only nonprofit committed to providing guarantees and supplies to black townships and rural communities in South Africa. While South Africa does not suffer from a lack of capital, the country has issues with evenly distributing capital to its residents. Shared Interest works to alleviate this problem by helping banks enhance their financial principal.

The organization was founded by Donna Katzin, who served as executive director from 1986 to 1994. All of the board members have continued to assist South Africa with social justice, education and development.

When people receive the investments, they are able to afford houses, start businesses, support their families and create jobs. This also allows community institutions to expand their operations to better serve more clients, strengthen their finances and increase their commercial viability. Financial institutions and banks benefit as well, as it allows them to build their capacity to serve the underprivileged.

There are more than 400 individuals and institutions in the United States investing in rural communities in South Africa, with investments totaling over 12 million dollars. As of right now, all of the investments have been paid back and the investees have utilized the loaned funds to bring themselves out of poverty. As of 2012, 79,657 people have received assistance from investors, with 100 percent of them being able to pay them back. Because of this support, 43,429 jobs have been created and 36,219 small businesses and microfinance clients have benefitted. In total, 145,473 people have served as guarantee beneficiaries.

Every August, Shared Interest hosts a month-long celebration honoring women in South Africa. The celebration focuses on empowering women who run businesses and are struggling with upholding their economic, social and political rights. The celebration brings together investees to commemorate making it out of poverty and to overcome other issues together.

Julia Hettiger

Sources: Shared Interest, Matador Network
Photo: BrazilWorks

Muhammad Yunus
Try to buy a house without a mortgage loan or start a business without a business loan. For most of the world’s population, even in developed countries, these tasked are difficult. In the developing world, where financial services are virtually nonexistent for millions of the poor, opportunity is a myth and breaking an endless cycle of poverty seems hopeless.

Bangladesh celebrated one of its own as Muhammed Yunus turned 75 years old on June 28th. Often thought of as the pioneer of the modern micro finance concept, Muhammed Yunus has, for decades, been an advocate for social business practices and alleviating global poverty.

Mohammed Yunus was born in Bangladesh India and is a social entrepreneur, banker, economist and civil society leader who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for founding the Grameen Bank.

The Grameen Bank is a microfinance organization and community development bank founded in Bangladesh that makes small loans known as micro-credit or “grameencredit”, without collateral requirements to impoverished entrepreneurs.

The Oxford dictionary defines micro-finance or micro-credit as the lending of small amounts of money at low interest to new businesses in the developing world.

During his tenure as a professor of economics at Chittagong University in the 1970s, Muhammed began experimenting with providing small loans to women in the tiny village of Jobra. Today, the World Bank estimates approximately 160 million people in developing nations are using micro-finance.

Yunus Social Business, an organization co-founded and chaired by Muhammed Yunus, calls itself a company created with the sole purpose of solving a social problem in a financially self-sustainable way.

Muhammed Yunus, with the success of the Grameen Bank and his concept of social business, among many other accomplishments, has won 112 international awards, received 55 doctorate degrees from 20 universities, was ranked by Time Magazine as one of the top 100 public intellectuals of the world and has authored internationally acclaimed books, published and translated into numerous languages.

Today Muhammed Yunus, as he reaches age 75, is celebrated all over the world and is still very much involved in the mission to fight global poverty. Recently, Yunus Social Business (YSB) launched its first social business accelerator in Uganda, a land locked country in East Africa, haunted by conflicts resulting in millions of deaths and plagued with child slavery. With the implementation of the program, Yunus Social Business hopes to address social and environmental problems in Uganda in a financially sustainable manner by promoting and empowering social businesses through the provision of business development services, impact investment funds and related technical support.

Uganda, an impoverished nation and an area of operation for the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a rebel group listed by the U.S. as a terrorist organization, could benefit from the Yunus Social Business model and possibly emerge from a society torn by war.

Through the implementation of micro-finance and the ideology of social business, societies around the world, mired for centuries in poverty could become self-sustainable and thanks, in part to Muhammed Yunus, more could lead rich fulfilling lives.

– Jason Zimmerman

Sources: Kiva, Prothom-Alo, World Bank, Yunus Social Business 1, Yunus Social Business 2
Photo: Huffington Post

microfinance
Microfinance has become a popular economic strategy for those in the “bottom of the pyramid” hoping to obtain a better quality of life through entrepreneurship and investment in rural business. But microloans often trap loan recipients in cycles of indebtedness, thus exacerbating the poverty loan providers claim to strive to reduce.

The primary problem with microloans is that recipients often use them to purchase basic necessities, like food and clothing, rather than for entrepreneurial ventures or local investment. In South Africa, 94 percent of microloan funding goes to consumption, not investment. This leaves recipients without the means of generating the income to pay back the loans (or the artificially high interest rates that come with them), which necessitates taking out new loans to repay previous ones. Because of the poor economic conditions in impoverished regions, people often have no choice but to enter into this cycle of debt.

Even when microloans are used towards developing business, loan recipients often face obstacles that make realizing revenue difficult or impossible. “When micro-loans are used to fund new businesses, budding entrepreneurs tend to encounter a lack of consumer demand,” writes Jason Hickel, an anthropologist at the London School of Economics. “After all, their potential customers are poor and low on cash, and what little money they do have gets spent on basic goods that tend already to be available. In this context, new businesses end up displacing already-existing ones, yielding no net increase in employment and incomes. And that’s the best of the likely outcomes.”

The worst, he writes, is similar to the outcome described above: borrowers end up failing and entering into cycles of indebtedness to pay off previous loans.

One challenge facing loan recipients is a lack of coherence among labor markets in developing regions. Enterprises launched by individuals have a high rate of failure due to a lack of business experience and resources with which to invest or pay back debts. Enterprises launched by communities, however, are much more likely to succeed, the result of collective utilization of resources and solidarity among workers.

An example is Bangladesh’s BRAC, the world’s largest development NGO. BRAC organizes poor communities using their own resources and enables them to create their own supply structures and manage their own industries. One of BRAC’s enterprises, Aarong, has grown into one of Bangladesh’s largest retailers and now earns annual revenues of over $60 million. Aarong’s supply-chain coherence and community support empowers rural artisans, allowing them to create and sell goods on a globally competitive level without having to launch individual initiatives by taking out high-risk loans.
Because NGOs like BRAC are largely self-funded, it is unlikely for them to establish a presence in every developing or impoverished region. This means that for rural workers to have a chance to succeed, local investment in small business needs to be accompanied by state assistance, strong subsidies and assistance for failed entrepreneurial endeavors.

One such example is affordable agriculture insurance, which has the potential to help rural farmers whose operations are threatened by conditions out of their control, like violent climates. Because agriculture is a main source of income for rural communities (over 2 billion people depend on “smallholder” farms for income), they often need to take out loans to maintain the resources to cultivate crops. Because agriculture is a high-variable venture, farmers are often left without the means of recovering lost investments. Insurance coverage for these farmers enables them to invest in riskier but more lucrative endeavors and makes it more likely for credit to be extended to them on more reasonable terms.

Business-friendly initiatives like agriculture insurance present opportunities for American companies to invest in developing regions while making it more likely for rural entrepreneurs to succeed. The more U.S. investors engage in activities such as these, the more likely it is for new markets to develop, and the more likely it will be for development aid to effectively improve business conditions in developing countries.

– Zach VeShancey

Sources: The Guardian 1, Center for Financial Inclusion, The Guardian 2
Photo: The Guardian

Microfinance
“The initial narrative around microfinance—that it was going to unleash the entrepreneurial spirit of the poor and lead to significant growth and poverty reduction—was never really all that realistic,” stated Asli Demirguc-Kunt, the Director of Research at World Bank, during a Policy Research Talk held in March 2015 to discuss the role of microfinance in today’s economy.

At its inception, microfinance was envisioned as a beacon of economic hope for the poor, specifically those operating small businesses, who were without access to loans and basic banking services. Given current data findings, it is debatable whether microfinance is reaching the poorest communities. Research provided by the Microfinance Information eXchange, or MIX, examines a handful of institutions and their clientele, stating how the institutions have impacted issues of poverty. One set of data shows the percentage of clients of each institution that are below the poverty line of either their respective country or the U.S. Some of the lowest percentages are three percent, 22 percent and 27 percent, while the highest are 73 percent, 80 percent and 86 percent. We are seeing that in some cases, the banks reach the poorest, but in other cases, the majority of their clients do not fall in this category.

A February 2015 policy brief from Poverty Action Lab, an organization focused on poverty research, drew several conclusions on the results of microfinance, citing its successes and failures. On the positive side, because of the accessibility of credit, some entrepreneurs have increased investments in their businesses and households have experienced greater flexibility in financial management. Although microfinance has proved beneficial in some ways, no major impacts have been seen in the level of client income, female empowerment or investment in childhood education. It was also determined that “demand of many of the microcredit products was modest.”

Robert Cull, Lead Economist of the World Bank Research Department, recognized some positive results of microfinance, but also pointed out that there have been no notable improvements in income per household or wealth, and the level of poverty has not dramatically changed.

Given the varied impacts of microfinance, many question how the industry can be improved. Some are advocating for a move toward digital banking, which would make services more accessible and inclusionary, while also helping banks and their clients to cut expenses. Certain microfinance institutions charge high levels of interest to support themselves, but money saved through an increased use of online transactions may enable them to lower rates so that more customers can borrow affordably. While certain initial expectations of microfinance have not been fulfilled, many agree that the institution has had enough successes that it should remain in place but with reforms.

Amy Russo

Sources: Devex, The Mix, Poverty Action Lab, The World Bank
Photo: Flickr

ICRW_Fights_For_Gender_Equality
In the developing world, one in three girls is married before age 18, and over 200,000 women die each year from pregnancy-related causes. In Sub-Saharan Africa, women account for approximately 60 percent of HIV infections, despite making up just over half of the population.

The International Center for Research on Women, or ICRW, a Washington, D.C.-based global research institute and registered nonprofit, has been working for nearly 40 years to combat statistics like these.

Founded in 1976, the ICRW conducts empirical studies intended to measure the obstacles that hinder women in the developing world from reaching their full potential. The ICRW then recommends policy priorities and designs “evidence-based plans” for donors, program designers and policy makers that enable needy women to lead happier, healthier lives.

The ICRW focuses its research on several main areas related to women’s empowerment. The first of these areas centers on issues that begin in adolescence.

Specifically, the ICRW conducts research on child marriage, education, work, healthcare and relationships. By identifying ways to make the attitudes and options of adolescent boys and girls more equitable, the ICRW hopes to empower women to take better control of their own futures.

The ICRW also focuses its research on how disparity between men and women affects agricultural productivity and food security in developing nations; women’s economic empowerment, employment opportunities and property rights; reproductive health and fertility control; HIV contraction, stigma and discrimination; and domestic violence issues.

In the four decades since its inception, the ICRW’s research has been instrumental in bringing about meaningful change in the lives of women in need. Its research efforts have, among other accomplishments, guided the passage of a 2005 law in India working to combat domestic violence, increased the availability of microfinance loans available to women in developing nations and helped integrate women’s empowerment and gender equality into the Millennium Development Goals.

With new regional offices in Kenya and India, the ICRW continues to conduct relevant research aimed to produce “a path of action that honors women’s human rights, ensures gender equality and creates the conditions in which all women can thrive.”

– Katrina Beedy

Sources: International Center for Research on Women, Coalition for Adolescent Girls
Photo: Flickr

mongolian-microfinance-mercy-or-menace
Microlending began with the innovation of currency. Friends and family would get together and pool their money to offer help in times of hardship. Mary Coyle, director of the International Institute at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, Canada, has found many such groups throughout history and around the globe, “In West Africa, they were known as ‘tontines;’ in Bolivia, ‘pasanaku;’ and across Mexico and Central America, ‘tandas.’”

The shift from microlending to modern day microfinance came about in the 1970s. Groups such as ACCION International in Venezuela and Yunus’s Grameen Bank in Bangladesh began to institutionalize the process. They formalized the loan process and expanded on already existing microlending practices. This enabled small businesses to generate capital instead of just paying for basic necessities.

With the initial success it has long been thought that microfinance was a long term solution to the problem of poverty. While it has brought some out of poverty, it has also kept others where they were financially before the loan and in some cases worse off.

In 2009 two studies were released on the use and impact of microfinance on those that were lent money, conducted by Karlan & Zinman in Manila and Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo, Rachel Glennerster and Cynthia Kinnan of J-PAL in Hyderabad, India. Neither study found that key factors of poverty had been directly impacted, though it was established that those in the Hyderabad study shifted their spending from temptation goods to durable goods. Another study in 2010 by Duflo and Co. in rural Morocco found similar results. There was no major change in poverty, but those that already had businesses did diversify.

These results have done little to curb the continued lending of XacBank in Mongolia. XacBank reported to the U.S.-based nonprofit Microfinance Information Exchange total assets of 594 million dollars and a gross loan portfolio of 393 million dollars with approximately 77,345 borrowers. The company helped a Mongolian baker turn a 100 dollar enterprise into a 75,000 dollar operation. The company and its investors have touted that many people across rural Mongolia have been helped in such ways.

This was put to the test by research done by Orazio Attanasio, Britta Augsburg, Ralph De Haas, Emla Fitzsimons and Heike Harmgart. All are affiliated with London-based institutions: the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Institute for Fiscal Studies and University College London. The study was a random selection of three rural villages across Mongolia. Loans were explained, applicants were screened as individuals and groups and then finally money was offered. Only 50 percent of those offered loans took them.

The findings were in line with the three previous studies. “Although the loans provided under this experiment were originally intended to finance business creation, we find that in both the group—and in the individual-lending villages, about one half of all credit is used for household rather than business goals. Women who obtained access to microcredit often used the loans to purchase household assets, in particular large domestic appliances. Only among women that were offered group loans do we find an impact on business creation.”

With such little change in the poverty rate, some wonder why we would continue this trend of microlending. It has proven to help some, but the vast majority either can’t access the funds or are turned down due to credit issues.

Hope comes from the Norwegian Nobel Committee, when they spoke of Yunus and his work: “Yunus’s long-term vision is to eliminate poverty in the world. That vision cannot be realized by means of microcredit alone. But Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank have shown that in the continuing efforts to achieve it, microcredit must play a major part.”

Frederick Wood II

Sources: UNDP, NY Times, MicroCapital, The World Bank, Center for Global Development, NPR, PBS
Photo: Bloomberg Business Week

kiva
A spinach farmer in Cambodia, a hot dog stand worker in Nicaragua, a fish seller in Uganda, a carpenter in Gaza and a bee keeper in Ghana were microfinance organization Kiva’s initial borrowers in 2005. However, Kiva has grown in scope and microfinance methods by combating global poverty from multiple angles. This week alone, 27,704 lenders made loans through Kiva.

Today, Kiva’s mission to alleviate global poverty through small-scale lending has grown far beyond its original scope. In the eight years since its inception, the nonprofit has sponsored loans totaling over $540 million. These loans fund over 1.2 million borrowers in 73 countries.

In its eighth year, Kiva is a leader in platforms for social improvement and poverty alleviation. The organization aims to empower low-income borrowers around the world to begin their own businesses, invest in home improvement and clean energies and more through small-scale loans of greater than $25.

Lenders are able to browse the profiles of people around the world who are seeking loans, and choose who they would like to support. Lenders then receive updates on the progress of their loan, connecting them to a larger global community dedicated to supporting low-income earners.

This concept of small-scale lending can be defined as microfinance. Microfinance is loans, savings and financial services for the poor or those without access to traditional banking systems, and the idea that these small-scale funds ultimately help to lift low-income borrowers out of poverty.

While effective in many ways, microfinance can also be limited in its reach due to high-risk costs and loans for more impoverished borrowers. In some situations, microfinance may not be the ideal way to assist borrowers, and cannot function as the only tool to fight against global poverty. In order to combat these limitations, Kiva seeks to be a more flexible form of microfinance by moving past economics and deeper into issues of agriculture, education and clean energy.

Currently, only 0.3 percent of microfinance borrowers take out loans for energy solutions. Kiva aims to combat the barriers of high cost and availability faced by low-income earners by taking on more creative, pay-as-you-go lending systems for borrowers. With credit delivered in more flexible ways, users are able to benefit from technologies while making their payments over longer periods of time.

Over the next decade, Kiva hopes to see clean energy products become regularities for its borrowers around the world. The ultimate goal for the nonprofit is the use of sustainable supply chains, improvement of health and well being and falling prices for renewable energy products.

Kiva has also increased awareness of microfinance in educational communities around the world. In August 2013, the organization launched Kiva U, a movement for students and educators dedicated to changing the world through microfinance. The initiative provides toolkits, resources and potential curriculum to promote communities where high school students, college-age students and teachers can connect and share ideas.

In October, Kiva hosted its inaugural Kiva U Summit, where 150 students and teachers came together to connect and discuss microfinance in an evolving world. In the same month, Kiva hit its one million lender milestone.

Through creative mechanisms and user-oriented strategies, Kiva has proven the potential for microfinance success in addressing low-income communities.

“Our approach is to see what works and share the results with a global audience,” Kiva President Premal Shah said. “Ultimately, our hope is to get high-impact products to people who have been too long overlooked, and demonstrate their success to the global market.”

 – Julia Thomas

Sources: The Borgen Project, Kiva, Kiva(2), Triple Pundit, MIT Press Journals
Photo: Design to Improve Life

bolsa_familia_brazil
Brazil has created an anti-poverty program, Bolsa Familia “Family Grant,” which gives cash money to mostly women. Since its implementation in 2003, around 11 million families, a quarter of Brazil’s population, have joined the Bolsa Familia program. This program is the largest of its kind and is based on a conditional cash transfer.

If a family earns less than 120 reais ($68) per family member each month, the mothers are given debit cards and up to 95 reais ($35 to $70) each month by the federal government. As part of the program, their children are required to attend school and receive vaccinations. If a family does not meet these conditions, their payments are suspended after several warnings.

Similarly, microfinance programs in Brazil give women loans to empower them and alleviate poverty. Although evidence from several studies supports the idea that microfinance empowers women, these microfinance programs have not succeeded due to their reinforcement of “informality of labor and the creation and persistence of gendered discourse that places greater burden on women.” The microfinance loans, despite the programs’ positive intentions, may place women under greater stress. Instead of pursuing activities that may benefit themselves and their families, these women can become trapped by the programs, and become less independent as a result.

The microfinance programs give loans and credit to primarily women because they believe that females are more reliable than men, and that they will use the money on food, education and family; women will not squander the money on alcohol, drugs and gambling.

However, are women truly more reliable than men? Although researchers argue that women repay loans faster and save more money than men do, this may be due to popular perceptions of the female gender. Women are believed to be more honest, sensitive, caring and nurturing due to their gender and traditional female roles of childrearing and domestic chores.

There are two main concerns about the program. First, corruption and fraud could prevent beneficiaries from receiving 100% of the money. Local officials could also report inaccurate information on eligibility to receive kickbacks. Second, these programs are meant to be a “temporary boost” to aid the poorest families in Brazil. Critics worry that it could turn into a permanent program upon which many families will remain dependent.

While the microfinance programs have failed, Bolsa Familia has seen early success. The program has reduced income inequality across the country, encouraged the growth of small businesses and increased the rate of economic growth. The cash money allows women to be more financially independent from their husbands and to have a larger decision making role in the household. After 10 years of the Bolsa Familia program, researchers have found that the program is empowering women and changing traditional gender roles in Brazil.

– Sarah Yan

Sources: Deseret News National, Economist, Prospect Journal
Photo: Keck Journal

Grameen Bank Loans
Ever heard of Whole Foods, Ben & Jerry’s or Starbucks? These fortune 500 companies all started out of generous individals’ belief in the store founders. This belief manifested in the form of financial investment and loans given to the companies that Americans know and love today.

The American dream promotes the idea that anyone, no matter the circumstance, can achieve success. Although there are many rags to riches stories built on hard work alone, Kiva International founder Jessica Jackley shared, “85% or more of funding for small businesses comes from friends and family.” One of the best gifts in life is to be recognized, valued and believed in by someone. Jackley holds this belief as her approach to eradicating global poverty and creating lasting change. Change, according to Jackley, happens not when we give to relieve our own suffering but when we give out of a “genuine hope in change.”

By providing small loans to farmers, seamstresses and goat herders abroad, among others, Kiva creates relationships between lenders and borrowers that promote respect and maintain dignity.

On the Kiva website there are stories featuring young entrepreneurs like Virginia in the Philippines who needs money to help buy fertilizer and insecticide for her rice production. Lenders can give one time loans in the amount of $25 to help borrowers like Virginia reach their goals.

Think of success stories like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. If no one had ever believed in or invested in those men we would have a very different world today.

Africa is host to millions of men and women that, if believed in and invested in have potential to better the world as well. Now, their requests are simple, such as buying another goat to make money to pay for their child’s education. That child, however, is another story to be believed in.

2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Dr. Muhammad Yunus is known for his pioneering of microfinance, or “financial services to low-income individuals or those who do not have access to typical banking services.” Yunus started what is known today as microfinance by lending money to poor women in Bangladesh in the 1970s.

Eventually, Yunus opened his first bank for the poor, Grameen Bank, meaning “rural,” or “village” in the Bangla language in 1983. The Grameen Bank is built on a structure that drastically opposes conventional bank norms. Yunus’ bank is majority owned by low-income women with no collateral or legal instrument. Rural borrowers own 90 percent of the banks shares whereas government owns only 10 percent.

With organizations and efforts like Kiva International and Grameen Bank, about 160 million people in developing countries are served through microfinance. (http://web.worldbank.org)

– Heather Klosterman

Sources: Business Pundit, Kiva
Photo: WordPress