Women in Microfinance

Two articles came to our attention this morning.

First is a press release from Oikocredit. Oikocredit is one of the largest sources of private funding to the microfinance sector. The organization also provide credit to trade cooperatives, fair trade organizations, and small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) in the developing world. Oikocredit released its International Empowerment Study, an investigation of microcredit, fair finance, and women’s empowerment. The results show “no matter where you’re from, no matter what you do, the empowerment of women is a vital consequence of fair finance”. And economic empowerment and women’s rights are interdependent.

Combine those results with this new article on Zimbabwe and there is a powerful message. Zimbabwe’s microfinance institutions have found a valuable wealth of agricultural knowledge in the matriarchs of local families. These “momtrepeneurs” (mom entrepreneurs) have lifted their families out of “grinding poverty”, while reportedly their husbands were more inclined to squander a year’s earnings in the “bright lights of the city”.

When economic crisis hits, women and children are the most vulnerable. The current global financial turmoil has led to declining investment, slower growth and a shrinking tax revenue base, resulting in rising unemployment. Women constitute a greater majority of the world’s population. If we’re working for growth and economic empowerment, who better to drive this change forward than women?