Credible Future - Can Micro Loans Make a Macro Difference?

ZIMBABWE: Microcredit Operators Target Salaried Workers

Johnson Gama knows life on the poverty line only too well. A qualified teacher, Gama has in the last few years been unable to survive on his salary despite working in a profession which two decades ago was considered middleclass in Zimbabwe.

KENYA: Empowering Women through Micro-Finance Credit

Without a college education and against the backdrop of limited job opportunities, it was not easy for Salome Wairimu to find employment.

Self-employed women can benefit from the Women Enterprise Fund.  Credit: Miriam Gathigah/IPS

KENYA: Uneducated Women Struggle to Access Credit Fund

As an estimated 3.7 million dollars continues to sit idle in the Women Enterprise Fund (WEF) kitty, the very women the fund was meant to benefit have complained about the difficult requirements that need to be met in order to access the money.

MALAWI: Village Hands Join to Save Forest for Juice

Seventy kilometres outside Malawi's commercial capital, Blantyre, a profitable cooperative enterprise is providing villagers jobs and preserving forests.

Toilet-trained kids use a microfinanced facility in their backyard in a Bhubaneswar slum. Credit: Manipadma Jena/IPS.

INDIA: Despite Fears of a Bubble, Microfinance Needed for Growth

Sambari Naik never went to school and is determined to give her daughter Rebati an education. But 13-year-old Rebati seldom did well in her studies, often dozing over her books beside a flickering and smoky kerosene wick lamp in their house, which had no electricity.

DEVELOPMENT: Microfinance Craze Conceals Multiple Problems

The microfinance industry is expanding at breakneck pace, with more banks and private equity firms now entering the fray. Yet there is growing unease about the naive assumptions, and evangelical predictions, of its advocates.

BRAZIL: Major Microlaboratory Against Poverty

Microcredit in Brazil still has huge potential for expansion, even though microloans have already grown much more than traditional credit in the last eight years.

Makoko, Lagos: Microcredit is helping women take advantage of entrepreneurial opportunities. Credit:  Sarah Simpson/IRIN

NIGERIA: Women Giving Each Other a Hand Up

In an open space near her home in Makoko, a crowded suburb of the sprawling city of Lagos, Latifat Agboola sits in the midst of bags of charcoal, attending to her customers. Some of them call her "the charcoal woman with the dirty job, but she sees herself as a businesswoman on the rise.

Rebecca Mwanza inspects a hammer-mill. Credit:  Lewis Mwanangombe/IPS

ZAMBIA: Making the Most of Limited Capital

Proponents of microfinance often portray it as the empowering extension of credit to vulnerable but diligently self-employed poor people - often women - who support each other to improve their livelihoods as well as repay their loans. The image is true, to some extent, but in many parts of Africa, microfinance institutions have somewhat sharper teeth.

ARGENTINA: Small Loans, Big Solutions

Avoiding the costs of traditional microcredit models, remote communities in the La Puna high plateau region in northwest Argentina have launched a successful loan programme that enables them to meet extraordinary expenses such as weaving material, school supplies or medicine.

Can Microcredit Reclaim Its Visionary Mission?

As controversy mounts over the efficacy of microfinance as a global poverty-alleviation effort, the 15th Global Microcredit Summit, scheduled to kick off on Nov. 14 in Valladolid, Spain, will be forced to answer critical questions about poverty, resources and tactics.

CENTRAL AMERICA: Boosting Small Enterprise to Fight Poverty

Small and medium-sized companies in Central America are the targets of foreign development aid programmes aimed at fighting the region's high poverty levels.

Mama Njoki with two of her dairy cows. Credit:  Isaiah Esipisu/IPS

Kenyan Women Pulling Together Against Poverty

When it works, it's spectacular: Esther Ngonyo Njuguna's dairy project stands as testimony to the potential of microcredit schemes to boost rural incomes.

ARGENTINA: Banking on Women’s Experience

Argentina's president is a woman, Cristina Fernández, and the country has one of the highest percentages of women lawmakers in the world. But women also have other leadership roles, outside the political system.

Mary Ellen Iskenderian Credit: Courtesy of Mary Ellen Iskenderian

Q&A: “Microfinance Is Much More Than Just Credit”

A day after U.S. assistant secretary of state for south and central Asian affairs Robert Blake appealed to the Bangladeshi government to reconsider its dismissal of 70-year-old microfinance guru Muhammad Yunus from the Grameen Bank, IPS spoke with the president and CEO of Women's World Banking (WWB), currently the most comprehensive network of microfinance institutions (MFIs) in the world.

BANGLADESH: Govt Under Pressure After Sacking Yunus

The Bangladesh government is drawing flak from the international community for removing microcredit pioneer and Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus from the Grameen Bank that he founded and led.

Munni working at her factory. Credit: Labid M Ishtiaque

BANGLADESH: Women Find a Way Out of Poverty

Twenty-one years ago, Munni Akter and her husband Shafiuddin could hardly afford two meals a day.

Microcredit Critics Say Debt Doesn’t Equal Emancipation

In response to a pelting critique from academics, economists and grassroots organisers worldwide, the 2011 State of the Microcredit Summit Campaign Report plans to address the controversies surrounding a development scheme that many believe to have failed.

A girl in the village of Kahkabila, Nicaragua, now has electricity. Credit: Courtesy of blueEnergy 2010

Q&A: Clean Energy and Cultural Survival in Nicaragua

For the past six years, French and U.S. engineers have been installing solar panels and wind turbines in the southeastern Nicaraguan town of Bluefields, promoting clean energy and development among the region's Rama indigenous peoples.

Registration is essential to access to credit that could help Rwandan women traders establish profitable formal enterprises. Credit:  Aimable Twahirwa/IPS

RWANDA: Women Win by Formalising Businesses

The vast majority of businesses in Rwanda - like elsewhere in Africa - are informal. Government expects that a drive to register an estimated 900,000 informal enterprises will both strengthen these businesses and improve tax revenues.

Women at a self-help group meeting in Andhra Pradesh. Credit: SERP/IPS

DEVELOPMENT: And How the Miracle Multiplied

Most of these women had never known what it is to have the dollar a day everyone speaks of. And last year, they were seen as good enough between them to be lent a billion and a half dollars.

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