“Attend strictly to those things which we call temporal… otherwise your faith will be in vain. The preaching you have heard will be in vain to you… Nurse and wait upon [the needy] and prudently administer medicine to them. To speak upon those things is a part of my religion….”
— Brigham Young
The list below offers websites for a number of other leading microfinance NGOs that I have partnered with, offered research and consulting, and helped them raise funds for combating global poverty. I have also arranged for BYU students to intern with these organizations over the years.
Founded in 1961, ACCION is a major, nonprofit, private organization, which provides small short-term loans to self-employed poor through its network of affiliated organizations in 13 Latin American countries and 6 U.S. cities. Recently, ACCION has created fully commercial financial institutions in Bolivia and Colombia whose sole clientele is the microenterprise sector. Over the years ACCION has given out over $5.8 billion in loans to 3.2 million microentrepreneurs.
“Microcredit is a critical anti-poverty tool—a wise investment in human capital. When the poorest, especially women, receive credit, they become economic actors with power. Power to improve not only their own lives but, in a widening circle of impact, the lives of their families, their communities, and their nations.”
— Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary-General
Grameen Bank (GB) has reversed conventional banking practice by removing the need for collateral and created a banking system based on mutual trust, accountability, participation, and creativity. GB provides credit to the poorest of the poor in rural Bangladesh, without any collateral. At GB, credit is a cost effective weapon to fight poverty and it serves as a catalyst in the overall development of socio-economic conditions of the poor who have been kept outside the banking orbit on the ground that they are poor and hence not bankable. Professor Muhammad Yunus, the founder of Grameen Bank and its Managing Director, reasoned that if financial resources can be made available to the poor people on terms and conditions that are appropriate and reasonable, “these millions of small people with their millions of small pursuits can add up to create the biggest development wonder.”
It has 2.4 million borrowers, 95 percent of whom are women. With 1,175 branches, GB provides services in 41,000 villages, covering more than 60 percent of the total villages in Bangladesh.
Grameen Bank’s positive impact on its poor and formerly poor borrowers has been documented in many independent studies carried out by external agencies including the World Bank, the International Food Research Policy Institute (IFPRI) and the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS).
Approximately a dozen BYU students have served as Grameen interns in Bangladesh or help to start Grameen Foundation USA in Washington, D.C. We were the first major university to honor Professor Yunus with an honorary doctorate degree, and we were the first college to establish a Grameen Support Club on campus as well.
“Each microloan is a voyage of self-discovery. . . . All human beings have unlimited potential. Those little monies give people an opportunity to discover their worth. . . . That is what makes all the difference in the world–to that individual and to the world..”
— Muhammud Yunus, Grameen Bank founder
“The Grameen Bank Model for Lifting the Poor”. Case Study, 1997.
FINCA International, founded by John Hatch in 1984, is a major microfinance network located in 24 countries throughout the world. FINCA provides financial services to the worlds poorest families so they can create their own jobs, raise household incomes, and improve their standard of living. It is currently serving nearly 250,000 families and has already aided over 500,000 other families in the last twenty years. My BYU students have conducted field research for FINCA projects as well as helped train poor borrowers and fund almost a hundred FINCA village banks, pioneering an innovative partnership between FINCA and BYU, a unique research collaboration.
FINCA founder John Hatch and the team of BYU field researchers in Washington, D.C. preparing to spend summer 2002 in the Third World evaluating the impacts of microcredit.
“You can’t cross the sea merely by staring at the water”
— Rabindranath Tagore
Freedom From Hunger
Established in 1946, Freedom from Hunger is recognized for fighting hunger with innovative self-help programs. They began as Meals for Millions, the organization that developed and introduced Multi-Purpose Food, a high-protein powdered food supplement still used today in relief efforts around the world. In the 1970s, they shifted their focus to implementing Applied Nutrition Programs, focusing almost exclusively on the health and nutrition of mothers and children. In 1988, Freedom from Hunger developed the world’s first integrated microcredit/health and nutrition education program. Today, its Credit with Education program is serving over 269,000 families in some of the poorest countries on earth.
Chris Dunford of Freedom From Hunger, Todd Manwaring, and me, 2004.
“Poverty is the worst form of violence.”
— Mahatma Gandhi
Katalysis was founded in 1984 and helped pioneer the microcredit model of economic development: the “Bootstrap Banking” model that the organization still practices today.
Instead of offering handouts that increase dependency and yield short-term results, Katalysis nurtures sustainable self-help enterprises, providing microloans and training to small businesspeople who already have tiny businesses, but lack the resources to make them profitable and sustainable — thereby building self-sufficiency and self-confidence.
Headquartered in Stockton, the heart of California’s agricultural region, Katalysis works in partnership with eleven community-based organizations that bring Bootstrap Banking to those who need it most: the rural poor of Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. Katalysis creates miracles within poor Latin American families.
“Where there is great love there are always miracles.”
— Willa Cather, novelist
Micro-Business, USA is in its tenth year providing micro-enterprise training and loans in South Florida. For the past three years, they have disbursed more loans than any designated microloan provider in the nation. Loans range from $500 to $35,000. Micro-Business, USAs stepped program of business training and loans, without credit or collateral, gives 1,000 low-income, entry-level entrepreneurs per year the opportunity to start, expand and stabilize small businesses. These are usually part-time, kitchen table, enterprises that generate an additional $7,000 – $10,000 a year to supplement wages of low paying jobs. For families living at or near the poverty line, that extra income means better nutrition, health care, child care, housing, education and a car that runs without constant repairs. Five of my students have served internships with Kathleen Gordon, the founder, in Florida, mostly with African-American, Haitian, and Latin American populations in Miami and its surroundings.
Kathleen Gordon, founder of Micro Business USA, and me in 2003 when she received the Warner P. Woodworth Social Entrepreneurship Award from BYU.
“The poor stay poor not because they are lazy but because they have no access to capital.”
— Milton Friedman, economist and Nobel Prize winner
The first Microcredit Summit was held on February 2-4, 1997. At the Summit, more than 2,900 NGO representatives from 137 countries gathered in Washington, D.C., along with various heads of government from around the globe. They launched a nine-year campaign to reach 100 million of the worlds poorest families, especially the women of those families, with credit for self-employment and other financial and business services by the year 2005. The Microcredit Summit Campaign brings together microcredit practitioners, advocates, educational institutions, donor agencies, international financial institutions, non-governmental organizations and others involved with microcredit. It seeks to promote best practices in the field, learn from each other, and work towards fulfilling its high-reaching objectives.
Some six BYU professors have spoken at Summit events, and a dozen of our students have been short or long-term volunteers at regional summits held in the U.S., Mexico, and Bangladesh.
Gathering for the 5th Annual Microcredit Summit, New York City, November 2002. Dr. Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank, social entrepreneur Warner Woodworth and his BYU team of future global change agents. The students’ names and their projects (L to R): Marcie Holloman (SOAR China), Patrick Lee (Uganda), Shon Hiatt (Enterprise Mentors International), Allyson Evans (Choice Humanitarian), Lora Jean Bennion (Journal of Microfinance), Clint Okerlund (FINCA), Jason Monson (Paramita Group), Megan Okerlund (MicroBusiness Mentors) and her baby (future social entrepreneur), and Kushal Ibrahim (Grameen Phone).
“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”
— Dale Carnegie