Microfinance, Plus Business Training, Equals Empowerment for the Developing World

Friday, November 11, 2011

VIENNA, VA, November 11, 2011-Step into the shoes of Priscilla, a 52-year-old woman in the new Republic of South Sudan who recently learned to write her name.

As a girl, she never had a chance to attend school, and so Priscilla struggled through much of her life seeking sense of purpose and dignity. Twenty-five years of civil war – and countless other factors – had locked her out of a world of opportunity.

Priscilla had almost given up hope. But thanks to a program that combines microfinance and literacy training, she can now read the names and numbers on her cell phone.

What’s more, she has started a small business – with no financial help at all from her husband.

In recent months, we have found ourselves mired in political gridlock and boxed in by protests from both ends of the political spectrum. The economy is sputtering. Optimism is at an all-time low. If there’s one thing everyone agrees on, it’s the need to create jobs.

That’s why, as the 2011 Global Microcredit Summit gets underway in Valladolid, Spain, I’m delighted to share some good news about jobs being created – in the poorest communities in the world.

We are seeing truly remarkable developments in isolated locales like Huancavelica, Peru, and Wau, South Sudan. You may not think these places – where my organization, Five Talents, supports micro-lending programs – have any impact on your daily life, but in a globalized world, they do, and more than we sometimes care to think about

One need look no further than the Arab Spring for an example. Failed states breed terrorism, continued unrest and violence. Individuals trapped in extreme poverty abandon the belief that they have something to offer to their own communities.

Our organization has found that a small loan – when coupled with accountability from a savings group, business training, and spiritual development opportunities – can give survival-business owners the boost they need to grow their work into a sustainable enterprise and foster a sense of dignity that is integral to the social well-being of a community.

This dignity then leads to empowerment, especially for women. And empowerment leads to transformation of families and communities, as the chains of poverty are broken.

Source: The Washington Times (link opens in a new window)