Women: Impoverished, Marginalized, And Invisible.
We serve very poor women in developing countries who need tiny business loans to generate income for their families. We do that by connecting them with investors willing to provide the capital.
We target women because females represent 70% of the world’s poorest people – those living on less than $2/day. Females are disproportionately poor because of centuries of systemic exclusions and biases that are triggered simply by virtue of being born a female. They suffer from a lack of education, an inability to own or inherit property, exclusion from financial services and job markets, and an absence of social status that makes them powerless in the face of discrimination.
The vast majority of poor women work in an unregulated, unprotected “underground” economy called the “informal sector” in order to provide needed income to their households. Almost all of their income is spent on food and shelter, leaving little to finance their enterprises. Without collateral, they cannot access traditional financial services so they borrow from predatory moneylenders who charge as much as 10% to 20% interest a day. Collateral is a difficult requirement for a population largely denied property rights. They own few “productive assets” such as sewing machines, bicycles, tractors or phones. They often lack access to basic infrastructure like electricity, water, and sanitation, and are plagued by poor health in the absence of affordable medical care. They have multiple occupations and miss out on the gains from specialization and economies of scale. They face income insecurity every day. Our goal is to level the playing field for these women and this drives everything we do as an organization.
Studies show that women borrowers are credit worthy, focus on health, invest in the future, and find their voice. Learn more about how we are promoting economic empowerment for women through our Investment and our Advocacy programs.