At the heart of the Year of Microcredit are the
millions of poor and low-income clients that
have benefited from access to financial services.
Those engaged in activities in support of the
Year should focus on placing these men and women
to whom this Year is dedicated, at centre stage.
||United States of
Styling A New Start
Fatimata Lonfo fled Cote d'Ivoire in October 2001.
Now the proud owner of Windyla's Boutique and Hair
Braiding Salon in Staten Island, Fatimata credits
her success to God, to perseverance, and to ACCION
New York, a non-profit microfinance organization
that gave her first small business loan. Her business
supports her and her three children, the oldest of
whom started community college this past fall. She
was chosen as the winner of the New York contest
of the Global
Microentrepreneur Awards due to the great economic
and social impact of her business on her family and
Upon learning that she would be received at the
opening of the NASDAQ on the launch day of the
International Year of Microcredit, she exclaimed, "I
don't know that there's such a big event waiting
for me again. That makes me feel ah, like an
important person now!"
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Lize Nhaca of Catembe, owns a small
fishing enterprise and is the winner of the UN
Microentrepreneur Awards held in Maputo on 4
November 2004. In 2002, Lize, a widow with 5 children,
was unable to work for three months due to illness.
When she recovered, many of her fishing nets were
ruined. Lize decided to apply for a loan with Hluvuku-Adsema
Fundo de Credito Male Yeru to cover the costs of
resuming her business. Since then she has been granted
four loans, the first one in January 2003 for a total
of around US$260 and the most recent in September
2004 for around US$690.
With the basic financial services, Lize's commercial
activities recovered allowing her to support
her extended family of sixteen members and start
building a new concrete house. In addition, her
company has generated four permanent job posts,
seven temporary ones, and supports the business
of self-employed women that buy her fish to sell
in Catembe and Maputo. "The money lent by
Hluvuku has given me many benefits," Lize
said. "If not for those loans, when I recovered
from my illness and found that the nets were
ruined, I wouldn't have had the money to buy
new nets or repair the boats."
Lize Nhaca flew to Zurich with the support of
responsAbility, a Swiss platform for social investments
founded by four Swiss Banks and a social venture
capital fund, to present her case at the SWX
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A Local Call to Success
Fatima Serwoni lives in the
village of Namunsi in Uganda and runs a small
store, selling food and household items. She
has built her business with the help of a series
of loans from FOCCAS, a local microfinance institution.
Since becoming a client, she has increased her
weekly income by 80 per cent and has consistently
paid the school fees for her four children. With
her most recent loan, Fatima purchased a mobile
phone kit to start a pay phone business, becoming
one of the first “village phone operators” of
MTN villagePhone, an initiative of Grameen Foundation
USA and MTN Uganda. Undeterred that her village
has no electricity, Fatima uses a car battery
to charge her phone. With the nearest public
pay phone more than four kilometres away, people
in Fatima’s community are happy to have
convenient and affordable telephone access for
the first time. Fatima is pleased with her new
business, which has the added benefit of attracting
people to her store and generating greater profit
to share with her family.
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A Sturdy Roof Overhead
Phorn Hun never had property
of her own. She lived in a thatched-roof house
along the fence of a pagoda. No one, not even
private moneylenders, dared to give her a loan.
In 1998, however, Mrs. Hun approached ACLEDA
Bank and explained her unfortunate situation.
She told them about her idea to start a noodle
business and they offered her a loan of US$ 25.
Only a few years later, Mrs. Hun’s profit’s
enabled her to buy a small piece of land to build
a wooden house with a metal sheet roof, a luxury
she could never afford before. She is still an
active borrower of ACLEDA Bank; she has since
had ten subsequent loans. ACLEDA Bank gave Mrs.
Hun a chance at a new and successful enterprise—and
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Three Children Finishing School
Photo: Rohanna Mertens
for ACCION International
Fortunata Maria de Aliaga has
sold flowers from a La Paz, Bolivia, street corner
for as long as anyone can remember. When her
children were young, she worked long days to
give them the opportunity she never had—the
chance to go to school. There were days when
she barely had enough money to set up shop. Then,
15 years ago, Fortunata learned about Banco Sol,
a bank affiliated with ACCION International.
Together with three other women, she qualified
for a loan that allowed her to buy flowers in
bulk at a much cheaper rate. With a strong repayment
record, Fortunata was approved for larger loans
and began to borrow on her own. Today, Fortunata
is proud to report that she put her savings to
good use. “All three of my children finished
school,” she beams. “And I even had
money left to make some improvements to my house!”
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A Blooming Business
Gloria Caramat and Beth Sabinian started
a floral landscaping business in the Philippines
in 1990. With a small business loan from the
Center for Agriculture and Rural Development
(CARD), Gloria and Beth expanded their business.
They now have two properties where their flowers—as
well as their business—are blooming. They
sell primarily to landscapers and real estate
developers. Gloria and Beth are now considering
taking a larger loan to help pay for a jeep,
which they will use to bring their flowers to
new customers. This, they hope, will reduce delivery
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Carving a Niche for Artisans
When Aid to Artisans (ATA) first met Mbanda (born
Jose Rodrigues Fumo), he was carving under a tree.
Originally a sole practitioner, Mbanda now employs
four other artisans in his workshop. ATA encourages
microenterprise by placing orders with small entrepreneurs
like Mbanda, and by sending 50 per cent of the purchase
price upfront for the artisan’s use as working
capital. In addition to sandalwood vases, his most
successful product is a carved sandalwood statue
of a face with streaming hair atop a standing figure,
which has been featured in major design magazines.
Mbanda leaves the front of the statue in its rough-hewn
state and polishes the back to a lustrous patina.
“I sell more now,” said Mbanda. “I
can work more, knowing that I am going to sell
my product. My life has improved because of the
large international orders that I am receiving.
I earn a lot more money than I did selling in
the local market!”
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Mark Malloch Brown,
Chef de Cabinet, Office of the Secretary General to the United Nations
"By directly empowering poor people, particularly women,
microfinance has become one of the key driving mechanisms towards
meeting the MDG's, specifically the overarching target of halving
extreme poverty and hunger by 2015."