Credible Future - Can Micro Loans Make a Macro Difference?

U.S.: Federal Court Grants Legal Victory to Transgender People

When Vandy Beth Glenn, a transgender woman formerly known as Mr. Glenn Morrison, told her supervisors at the Georgia state legislature where she served as a legislative editor that she would start coming to work dressed as a woman, she was fired.

HONDURAS: Indigenous Cooperatives Cultivate Success

Thanks to the quality and freshness of their produce, indigenous Lenca farmers in western Honduras are regular suppliers of seven supermarket chains. This year they won the National Environmental Prize, in the community initiatives category.

EUROPE: Co-ops Off to a Promising Start

A small wave of consumer cooperatives is rising in Central and Eastern Europe, attempting to provide food that is locally produced and healthy, and to build conviviality.

Nicaragua Sows Quality Seeds to Reap Quantity

"Using high quality seed, I harvested 20 quintals (one quintal = 100 pounds), while with ordinary seed I only get 10 quintals," Vilma Rodríguez, a beneficiary of a seed production programme in the northwestern Nicaraguan province of Estelí, told IPS.

SPAIN: Self-Financed Communities “A Tool for Building Trust”

On the first Sunday of every month, Abdoulaye Fall, from Senegal, meets a group of people in Barcelona, to contribute money to a common fund or to take out a loan. This is one of 60 self-financed communities in Spain, an alternative to traditional banking systems that is having a powerful social effect.

ARGENTINA: Women Build New Opportunities in Cooperatives

Forged in the 2001-2002 social and economic crisis, cooperatives in Argentina are becoming a fast track to women's participation in what were traditionally regarded as male spheres.

Millions Stand to Benefit from Farmers’ Co-ops

The 925 million people who went hungry in 2010 are just one facet of an ever-worsening food security crisis. Both food producers and consumers face the consequences of price volatility and unsustainable agricultural practices - challenges that leave leaders on local and global levels alike seeking sustainable models for agriculture.

Microfinance Works – For the Rich

Jesús Guerra, a volunteer at this week’s Fifth Global Microcredit Summit in this Spanish town, was nonplussed by the expensive gold watch sported by a banker from a developing country.

Microcredit pioneer Muhammad Yunus at Valladolid. Credit: Raquel Martines/IPS

Microcredit – Women Demand More Than Incomes

Microcredit can help a woman to have an income. It can, for better or worse, also transform gender equations in the public and private spheres.

The traditional insurance industry is not very innovative, says Isabel Cruz. Credit: Inés Benítez/IPS

The Poor Need Insurance Too

Poor families are well aware of the devastating effects of unforeseen expenses on their lives. Microinsurance, a recent microfinance tool, has the potential to limit their vulnerability and combat poverty, experts say.

Stalls await business at the Valladolid microcredit summit.  Credit: Raquel Martinez/IPS

‘Microcredit is No Magic Wand Against Poverty’

While microcredit remains the best tool available to address poverty it is no magic wand and can only be a part of the larger development process, say experts gathered in this historic Spanish city.

Due to a lack of autonomy, cooperatives in Cuba have been less successful than individual farmers who hire local labour. Credit: Baldrich - IPS

CUBA: Co-operatives Set to Expand

The creation of co-operatives forms part of the current "updating" of the Cuban economy, even though no official information has been provided about the expansion of this form of business management, which has already been tested, with mixed results, in agriculture.

Rural women find themselves at the centre of efforts by mobile phone service providers to introduce mobile phone money transfers in Zimbabwe. Credit: Ignatius Banda/IPS

ZIMBABWE: Rural Women Banking By Mobile Phone

Collecting the monthly subscriptions for her co-operative has always been a headache for Thelma Nare, 41. This is because Nare lives in Tshitshi, Plumtree in rural Zimbabwe, about 60 kilometres away from the humdrum of the nearest town centre where banks are located.

One of many women in Kenya who are self-employed thanks to microloans from the Women

DEVELOPMENT: Showcasing Solidarity

How does a freezer purchased with a microloan change the life of a poor woman in Senegal? What are the Study Solidarity Olympics? How many lives can an ambulance equipped to attend births save in Ethiopia?

Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, President of the U.N. General Assembly, addresses the GA at the launch of the International Year of Cooperatives. Credit:  Devra Berkowitz/UN Photo

U.S.: Frustrated with Big Banks, More Turn to Cooperatives

The number of people flocking to cooperative banks has recently skyrocketed in the U.S., with 650,000 people joining credit unions just since late September. Their rationale: financial cooperatives offer a more secure and socially just alternative to big commercial banks – or a way for the 99 percent to fight the one percent.

THE WORLD SUMMIT ON MICROCREDIT AND THE FUTURE OF FINANCIAL INCLUSIVENESS

Opening a small shop in a town in Bangladesh, founding an artisans cooperative in Peru, setting up farm in sub-Saharan Africa, or encouraging the formation of economic alliances of women anywhere in the world -these are concrete examples of the goals of microcredit, a new financial system set in motion decades ago in Bangladesh by Professor Muhammad Yunus, a social leader who was awarded the Asturias Prize in 1998 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.

Teófila Anchahua in the highlands of Peru raises guinea pigs with the help of a microloan.  Credit:  Julio Angulo/IPS

Argentina Lags in Microfinance, Despite Huge Potential

Although microfinance is more deeply rooted in Latin America than in other regions, in Argentina the sector is less developed, but has enormous potential, experts say.

Sir Fazle Hasan Abed Credit: Courtesy of WISE

EDUCATION: Bangladeshi Humanitarian Wins Half-Million Prize

A Bangladeshi humanitarian with a British knighthood - and head of one of the world's largest non-governmental organisations (NGOs) promoting the cause of education - walked way with half a million dollars in prize money and a gold medal at the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) in the Qatari capital of Doha.

Monique Leroux, President and CEO of the Desjardins Group, speaks about the financial crisis and the role of cooperative banks. Credit: UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

Long Overlooked, Cooperatives Get Their Due at United Nations

Hailed as economically viable and socially responsible, cooperatives have over one billion members worldwide and can be found in sectors ranging from agriculture to finance to health.

Future of Microfinance Is Bigger Than Just Loans

Microfinance initiatives to fund development could benefit from reinvigorating their aims and taking on new, integrated approaches, according to experts at the 2011 International Forum on the Social and Solidarity Economy in Montreal.

Women wait expectantly on loan disbursement day in Kishoreganj district. Credit: Naimul Haq/IPS

BANGLADESH: Reducing Poverty Hinges on Microcredit – Yunus

Reducing poverty in Bangladesh will depend critically on sustaining the successes of the country’s microcredit (MC) programmes, says Muhammad Yunus, the economist who shared the 2006 Nobel peace prize with his creation, Grameen Bank.

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