Monday, March 8, 2010

In honor of International Women's Day

Today is International Women's Day and a time to celebrate the achievements of women all around the world. In honor of International Women's Day, Kiva would like to highlight the stories of a Kiva entrepreneur, lender, microfinance institution, and lending team.
Fatou Niang, Inspiring Kiva entrepreneur in Senegal

Fatou Niang, a 57-year-old married mother of 9 children, started working as a dressmaker 20 years ago. Her tailor shop hardly made enough money for her big family. After years of struggling, she realized that with her tailor shop alone she wouldn't be able to afford more than just the most urgent things.

Two and a half years ago, Fatou took her first loan from CAURIE Microfinance, a Kiva field partner. With these loans, she was able to broaden her business and open up a cosmetics and home-products shop. Once she opened up this second store, revenues rose and Fatou was able to improve the situation of her family in many ways. Not only could she now pay the costs for medical treatment if needed, she could also send her youngest daughter to a private school in Thiès, which gives her daughter better prospects for the future. Most recently she could buy a new bed, a refrigerator for the family, and construct a solid roof (concrete instead of corrugated metal).

As a successful entrepreneur, Fatou now chairs her “Banc Villageois” and is President of the Chamber of Female Traders of Thiès. From the revenues she makes with her business, she gives a share to a "Banc Villageois" member’s young child to share her success with others who are in need.

Video translation: "I would like to say thanks to Caurie (Kiva field partner). Caurie has financed our businesses, has educated and trained us, and has organized us [meaning the Banc Villageois]. Thanks to Kiva, Caurie's Partner."

Rebecca, Committed Kiva lender in Massachusetts

Rebecca has made over 4,000 loans to Kiva entrepreneurs. When asked what she enjoys most about lending, she said "I think it connects you to the world. For example, I had lent to some people in Kenya who were victims of violence during the unrest there. Following what was happening to some of the borrowers was so sad, but without lending, the story could have just passed me by."

Rebecca has enjoyed her Kiva lending experience and said, "I've made a lot of loans at this point, and I just like to think, even if it's only helped a tiny percent of them, that's a lot of lives to touch."

Pro Mujer Bolivia, Dedicated Kiva Field Partner

Pro Mujer Bolivia is Pro Mujer’s flagship program, and the foundational model on which all the other country programs have been built. For 20 years, the staff of Pro Mujer Bolivia has been providing poor women with financial and non-financial services to help them improve their lives.

The financial services offered include providing loan capital for the women’s small-scale businesses and opportunities to save a portion of their profits through the communal bank structure. Bolivia is a very competitive environment for microfinance, and Pro Mujer has successfully carved out its niche as one that reaches the most marginalized women, typically migrants from the rural areas to the poor neighborhoods surrounding major cities such as La Paz. These women bring their skills and strong convictions to provide for their families, but very few are able to access the formal financial institutions, even the specialized regulated institutions.

Pro Mujer Bolivia also provides non-financial services to its clients such as business training, health and personal development services, and access to a computer center. This field partner's holistic and comprehensive approach has been successful for its clients.

Women Empowering Women, Enthusiastic Kiva lending team

Women Empowering Women was started by Kiva Co-Founder Jessica Jackley in August of 2008 and this lending team has over 1,140 members. The team's motto is "loan because if you empower a woman, you change the world." Women Empowering Women has made over 4,800 loans totaling $136,375. It is inspiring to see their success! If would like to learn more about this lending team, please click here.

We hope you enjoyed these profiles in honor of International Women's Day!