Friday, April 16, 2010
Microfinance – A Successful Strategy to Help Small Entrepreneurs in the USA
Microloans are still too often associated with small community loans for extremely poor women in Asia, Africa and South America. However, Muhammad Yunus, the founder of the concept of “microcredit” and the Grameen Bank, was driven by the belief that access to credit should be recognized as a universal human right. Therefore, in 2006 the Nobel Committee awarded Yunus and the Grameen Bank the Nobel Peace Prize “for their effort to create economic and social development from below” not only in his native Bangladesh but “across cultures and civilizations”.
Today, many small business owners here in the United States face similar difficulties as their Bangladeshi colleagues in receiving access to fair loans from traditional banks. “Coming To America: Third World Microlending,” a story featured on NPR in March 2010, documents that microfinance is no longer only a strategy of poverty-alleviation in developing countries. It has also become a successful tool to help small entrepreneurs in the USA. The story captures beautifully the struggles of small business owners to find the necessary capital that allows them to launch their own business, the role of microlenders, such as Women’s Initiative for Self-Employment which has been an active microlender for lower-income women in the Bay Area for more than two decades, and the growing demand on Washington to realize and support the significant work of microlenders across the country.