For decades, economists have asked how to end poverty? Microloans can have a huge impact. Microloans supply impoverished communities with capital that they would not have access to otherwise. Typically, microloans are targeted at women and their families. This supports gender equality and empowers women. With financially stronger families, entire communities thrive.
Imagine this: a young mother wants to start her own business. With the help of microloans she can buy all of the supplies that she needs. Once her business is up and running she pays back the loan and is virtually self-sufficient. If a community has other mothers who have also started their own businesses these mothers can purchase products from each other. This process creates a community that is dependent on each other and everyone benefits.
Modern day micro-lending began in Bangladesh with Muhammad Yunus, a Bangladeshi social entrepreneur, banker, economist, and civil social leader. Yunus was saddened by the poverty in his home country and he wanted to make an effective and long lasting impact. He started by lending out $27 dollars to 42 people who lived in a tiny village. Once these entrepreneurs had their money they were able to buy supplies to start their business. Once their business was up and running, they repaid their original loan to Yunus. Yunus lost no money in the process, but was able to have a huge impact on the villagers. Micro-lending was born.
In 1983, Yunus founded Grameen, a foundation dedicated to ending poverty while helping some of the world’s most impoverished communities. In 1997, he played an essential role in the creation of the Microcredit Summit Campaign. This campaign has helped over 100 million poor families. Yunus’ connection to Bangladesh as well as to the impoverished families the world, has sparked a fascination surrounding micro-loans that has launched many other foundations dedicated to the same cause. In 2006, Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize for founding the Grameen Bank. Grameen now has projects in 58 countries, with 2,564 branches, 19,800 staff members, and 8.29 million borrowers in 81,367 villages.
Another one of the most successful foundations that is dedicated to helping the world’s poor through micro-loans is Kiva. Kiva was founded in 2005 by Jessica Jackley and Matt Flannery. As of 2016, Kiva has lent out nearly 850 million dollars to 84 countries worldwide, with the help of 450 volunteers. Kiva is unique among foundations that dedicated to microfinance because they take full advantage of the internet. Their website makes the lending of micro-loans like online-shopping; users can add loans to their cart and essentially purchase the loans. There is a 98% chance that you will get your money back, and you are helping others across the world by only clicking a button. At Lick, Kiva Club is one of the most popular clubs. They are always popping up with fundraisers and community meeting presentations.
Just south of the U.S. another foundation is hard at work distributing microloans to impoverished individuals and communities. This foundation is called Esperanza and was founded by Dave and Valerie Valle.
After his rookie year with the Seattle Mariners, catcher Dave Valle and his wife Valerie Valle took a summer trip to the Dominican Republic so that Valle could play summer ball outside of the U.S. Unlike his post-game rituals in the U.S., where he would be greeted by fans wanting an autograph, he was met instead by young children who asked him for food. Valle later learned that these children lived in impoverished neighborhoods surrounding the baseball stadiums. The Valles quickly developed a connection with these children and the DR, and he promised that when he could come back and help he would. Nearly ten years later they returned, and they brought with them Esperanza International; a solution to inequality and poverty that riddled the Dominican Republic.
The main work of Esperanza is to provide microloans to impoverished individuals and their families. They specifically help mothers and those that have been rejected by formal banks.
But why the DR? The reason extends beyond Dave and Valerie Valle’s connection with the DR after the summer of 1985. 41% of Dominican Republicans live below the poverty line; the nation’s average income is $5,770. In addition, there are over 1.5 million single mothers struggling to support their families.
How exactly does Esperanza improve the lives of these families and communities? Simple. Through the use of micro financing and micro loans. They distribute various types of loans that fit the different needs of different people and groups. These loans are aimed at groups of individuals in a community, individuals who have proved responsible with past loans, individuals that want to start a Christian school, and individuals that want to improve their homes. These loans help and support individuals; the businesses that these individuals create support their communities.
When figuring out ways to end poverty it is impossible to think of one solution to end the world’s poverty. Micro-lending can infiltrate smaller communities and make huge impacts through small deeds.