Microfinance consists of making small loans, usually less than $100, to individuals, usually women, to establish or expand a small, self-sustaining business. For example, a woman may borrow $50 to buy chickens so she can sell eggs. As the chickens multiply, she will have more eggs to sell. Soon she can sell the chicks. Each expansion pulls her further from the devastation of poverty.
Microfinance, the Grameen way, includes several support systems that contribute greatly to its success. We will offer some business advice and counseling, while clients provide peer support for each other through Solidarity Circles. For example, if a client falls ill, her circle helps with her business until she is well. If a client gets discouraged, the support group pulls her through. This contributes substantially to the extremely high repayment rate of loans made to microfinance entrepreneurs.
An equally important part of microfinance is the recycling of funds. As loans are repaid, usually in six months to a year, they are re-loaned. This continual reinvestment multiplies the impact of each dollar loaned.
Microfinance has a positive impact far beyond the individual client. The vast majority of the loans go to women because studies have shown that women are more likely to reinvest their earnings in the business and in their families. As families cross the poverty line and micro-businesses expand, their communities benefit. Jobs are created, knowledge is shared, civic participation increases, and women are recognized as valuable members of their families and communities.
Much of the information provided herein is taken from the Grameen Foundation ( http://www.grameenfoundation.org ) and adapted for the Kyangwali Women's MicroFinance Business Loans project.