Pathways out of Poverty: Innovations in Microfinance for the Poorest Families

Pathways out of Poverty: Innovations in Microfinance for the Poorest Families

Pathways out of Poverty: Innovations in Microfinance for the Poorest Families

Pathways out of Poverty: Innovations in Microfinance for the Poorest Families

Synopsis

Six contributions examine the core themes of the Microcredit Campaign: reaching the poorest, reaching and empowering women, building financially self-sufficient institutions, and ensuring a positive, measurable impact on the lives of clients and their families. Of likely interest to development agencies and those in their employ. Annotation (c)2003 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Excerpt

We live in a world where more than 100 million children of primary school age have never stepped inside a classroom, where some 29,000 children die each day from largely preventable malnutrition and disease, and where 1.2 billion people live on less than $1 a day.

In this same world there are millions of women like Saraswathi Krishnan who lives in India. “When my children cried at night from hunger, I felt like dying,” Saraswathi recalled. Her husband, an unskilled wage laborer, earned very little and often squandered what little he made on alcohol. Eventually, when the roof of their tiny hut was about to collapse, having no jewelry or other assets to pledge for a loan to repair it, Saraswathi sold her seven-yearold daughter into bonded labor to a local merchant for 2,000 Indian rupees (about US$40).

“My little girl complained to me daily that the merchant abused her. His family would eat food in front of her and give her none,” she remembered. Five years later Saraswathi joined Working Women's Forum, a women's selfhelp and microcredit program based in Madras, India. With her first loan she paid off her debt to the merchant, freeing her daughter, who now attends school, and began a small vegetable-selling business.

With a second loan she bought her sixteen-year-old son a loom. Previously he would bring home around $5 per month doing odd jobs for wealthy families. With the loom, he can weave two saris per month, earning him $25 per month.

Now Saraswathi's vegetable business is thriving as well, thanks to her hard work and the training she has received from the program. She is glad to be able to “give her children opportunities,” she explained. With the family's new sources of income, Saraswathi has a sense of pride and security she never before experienced. “I will never mortgage my children again; they will be educated. Now I see to it that my husband is good and does not beat me anymore.”

Inspired by women like Saraswathi Krishnan and in response to the plight of hundreds of millions of very poor women without access to financial services, more than 2,900 people from 137 countries gathered in February . . .

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