Today marks the kick-off of Oikocredit’s 2nd Summer of Microfinance campaign, an initiative started last year to raise awareness of the power and effectiveness of microfinance…when it is done correctly. More than four decades ago, some pioneering individuals with foresight realized the poor could be empowered through the provision of credit for the expansion of productive capacities. In simple terms, we are talking about small loans made to poor women and men to invest in income-generating projects and expand their financial contribution to their homes and communities.
Oikocredit, for more than 35 years, has contributed to this original vision of microfinance. We believe that investing in people is a gradual yet sustainable way to ensure continued growth and empowerment among the working poor. I have had the pleasure of visiting clients of Oikocredit’s project partners in two very different countries – in Ukraine in Eastern Europe, and in Togo in West Africa. In all of my many encounters with dozens clients from very different places, a constant emerged: the loans they received translated to much more than the money itself. A client’s loan meant to the ability to send her daughter to school as well as her son; to increased respect in her home and community; to a new roof over his head; to two meals per day instead of one.
This is the Power of Microfinance. A microloan is by no means the sole answer to alleviating extreme poverty – but it is a proven mechanism to provide access to greater opportunities for people who were born very poor by no fault of their own. Oikocredit raises investment capital to ensure that the traditional version of microfinance – that which is focused on lending for empowering and productive purposes – is accessible to the millions of people who need it. We are a partner of the poor and underserved and hope you will join the movement and share the Power of Microfinance this summer!
If you’re in Washington, DC, you can start by attending our Summer of Microfinance kick-off event, taking place tonight at 6:00 pm at the Science Club (1136 19th Street NW in Washington, DC). You’ll hear from Terry Provance of Oikocredit USA and Leigh Carter, our esteemed colleague and friend from Fonkoze USA, Oikocredit’s project partner in Haiti. Leigh was in Haiti during the devastating earthquake and has many stories to tell about the Power of Microfinance. We hope to see you there!