Global Laser Talk #2 March 2013

Reaching the Poorest with Microfinance

Engage: Beatrice Ngendo was a single grandmother living with 12 grandchildren in Kenya’s Mathare Valley. Beatrice’s children and their spouses all died of AIDS, and the situation looked very desperate. She even thought about killing herself.

Problem: In Africa, only 10 percent of people have access to basic financial services for saving and borrowing. This grim reality prevents millions from lifting themselves out of poverty.

Inform: But Beatrice heard about Jamii Bora, an effective microfinance organization, and joined in 2000. With access to financial services, Beatrice developed a grocery store, a butchery, a restaurant, and rental house. Even better, her grandchildren got back into school. Successes like Beatrice’s can be repeated if we expand access to microfinance.

Call to Action: One way to do this is to expand the U.S. investment in microfinance that reaches the poorest. Will you please speak to Representatives Kay Granger and Nita Lowey and ask them to fund U.S. microfinance programs at $500 million in 2014, and ensure that 50% of these funds are targeted to the very poorest? I can provide you with additional background information.

If you want to call your representative or senators, contact the Congressional Switchboard: (202) 224-3121