“For every talent that poverty has stimulated, it has blighted a hundred.”
— John W. Gardner, founder of Common Cause
Today, while millions of rich people have become part of a larger than ever wealthy class, 1.2 billion individuals struggle to survive on less than a dollar a day. Another 1.3 billion live on less than $2 a day. They are the world’s poorest, totaling over a third of the planet’s people, the “hyper-poor.” The concept of poverty emphasizes the lack of material comforts, basic needs, and even psychological conditions such as a loss of dignity, insecurity and fear.
Microcredit, is the granting of tiny loans of usually $50-$100 to help impoverished Third World families start a microenterprise. It is a terrific strategy for global change that I have put my heart and soul in to mobilize BYU, the Church, and numerous NGOs to embrace. Although for two decades, most government experts and academics ridiculed such a radically simple idea, today, microfinance is growing like wildfire as a tool for building self-reliance. In the past 15 years, it’s been a privilege for me to labor and sweat in the trenches and the jungles with the global poor, and to help “lift the hands of those who hang down” through sustainable microcredit strategies.
In sum, I’m an unabashed optimist. I have a great faith in America’s destiny and goodness. I also believe that with our resources and ingenuity we can solve global problems. The war against terror won’t do it. We need to be for peace and justice, not just against something. Unleashing the power of microcredit has the potential for eliminating poverty—not just the reduction of poverty, but its complete eradication.
“Self-reliance is the only road to true freedom, and being one’s own person is its ultimate reward.”
— Patricia Sampson, author of A Star to Steer By