The focus of PikeSPeak is generally to pass along something that can help you make the most of your communications, whether online or “in the real world.” This time though, especially in light of today being the 100th International Women’s Day, I’d like to look at an online way you can help others make the most of their real world.
We all feel like we’re having a bad day sometimes. Most times though, our worst days would be a dream come true for the women in developing countries. They know what a bad day is really like. And worst of all, even though many of them work hard to improve their lives, they get little or no support. Women are generally much more likely to be denied a bank loan or be discriminated against. Over 70% of people living below the poverty line are women.
There is now good news for many of these women. Kiva.org has just launched Financial Independence Through Entrepreneurship (FITE), an online resource to help women entrepreneurs get small loans to help start or grow a business. Kiva.org is the world’s leading microfinance network, giving people like you and me a way to review and directly support a small business in a developing country. By lending small amounts like $20 or $50 to an entrepreneur in some faraway land, we can help that person create a business that will help them feed his or her family. It is a phenomenally well-run program, and despite the cynicism that comes to mind when we think about lending money to someone we’ll never meet in a country we’ll never visit, the record of such ventures is impressive. In fact, I’ve heard it said that the likelihood of being repaid is significantly higher with such loans than with traditional bank loans to North American businesses.
By focusing on women entrepreneurs, FITE is trying to reverse or at least minimize some of the additional challenges that women entrepreneurs in developing countries face. Their target is to help at least 25,000 women before the end of 2012. It’s an aggressive target, which seems only appropriate given the aggressive obstacles these women face every day. As the FITE Website notes:
Leading thinkers in social development, including the World Bank, hail investing in women as “smart economics,” an untapped resource that can help solve many of the problems we see in our world today. Indeed, lending to women produces a positive ripple effect of improved health, education, and welfare for all household members.
If you’d like to join this very noble cause and change some lives, check out their Website to learn more, and click on the Make a Mircoloan link to explore the actual opportunities you have right now to support some of these women entrepreneurs. In this world of challenges, we can actually not only create some happy stories; we can help create some happy lives.