Every Wednesday, we highlight an article, book or a blog in our “What We’re Reading” series. We feature works that are noteworthy, inspiring, educational or relevant to the work we do at Opportunity. We welcome your comments in the comment field below–-tell us what you’re reading, or respond to the piece we’ve highlighted. The following post reflects on a piece published this week in WomenEntrepreneur.com entitled ”Microfinance: Women’s Way Out,” written by our VP of women’s philanthropy, Ruth-Anne Renaud.
Opportunity International helps women worldwide build and maintain businesses to create a better future for themselves and their families. -WomenEntrepreneur.com, 12/20/10
Ruth-Anne writes of the extraordinary courage and determination it takes for a woman entrepreneur to succeed in the developing world. They face challenges that include sexual violence, inadequate nutrition and health care, and are often prohibited from owning property. All this contributes to the fact that 70% of the people living on less than $2 a day around the world are women.
So what can be done to empower women? Organizations and development programs like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Millennium Development Goals are increasing their focus on programs that improve the lives of women. But individually, we can empower women by investing in them, enabling them to access microfinance solutions like loans, savings, microinsurance and training.
Beyond these facts and stats, Ruth-Anne shares her firsthand experiences with the impact of microfinance, introducing us to the women entrepreneurs she has met in her travels throughout the developing world, especially in Uganda. There she met school proprietresses Mariam Noah, Dorothy Tendero and Rosemary Namande (known in her community as Mama Rosemary). The work of these tireless, compassionate women educators is crucial to improving the futures of local women and girls.
As Women’s Opportunity Network (WON) member and Ugandan traveler Julie Hindmarsh observes, “Educating their children is the first dream women speak about. Women entrepreneurs who are able to educate their daughters are the hope of Africa. Their values of working together in the community for win-win situations could transform the entire continent.”