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Creating Long-Term Solutions to Poverty Through Empowerment
The Microfinance Initiative was born out the Educate the Congo Project’s desire to help the Congo, a nation characterized by human rights abuses, torture, and sexual violence stemming from the conflict over its resources (gold, coltan, and diamonds) since 1998. Our goal is to create long-term solutions to poverty through the Primary School (2003), the University (1993), and the hospital (2004) all in Kinshasa, and through relationships with Western Reserve Academy, Green Local Schools, St. Vincent-St. Mary, Akron Children’s Hospital, the Cleveland Clinic and others.
What is Microfinance?
- character-based, unsecured loans (no collateral)
- group or individual loans
- reasonable interest rates and short terms (12 months or less)
- quick and easy procedures for obtaining credit
- access to repeat loans for borrowers with good repayment history
- typically focus on women
- banks traditionally biased against women due to lack of collateral
- studies show that women use earnings to support the family (health, nutrition, education)
Microfinance has evolved as an economic development approach intended to benefit low-income groups. The term refers to the provision of financial services to low-income clients, including the self-employed. Financial services generally include savings and credit, and some microfinance organizations also provide insurance and payment services.
70% of microfinance institutions have fewer than 2,500 borrowers, and demonstrate efficiency because lower administrative costs lead to lower interest rates. The Grameen Bank founded in 1983 today has 2 million borrowers, 12,000 staff, and won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize.
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A microloan is a tremendous tool in the hands of the poor and economic self-empowerment can create a permanent path out of poverty.
Pierre Omidyar, founder of eBay