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The Potential of Microloans for Women in the Developing World

Dolores at work in the Dominican Republic.
Photo: ©2011 Claudia Martinez/World Vision

Dolores lives in Sabana Perdida, an impoverished community in the Dominican Republic with her two children. Prior to getting help from World Vision, Dolores struggled and faced many challenges to make ends meet in order to support her family. However, Dolores’s life turned around just a few years ago when she received a microloan from World Vision. With this backing, Dolores was able to turn her oppression and poverty into opportunity by starting her own business. Comparable to our lifestyles in America, the loan of 300 US dollars seems meager. But with just 300 dollars, Dolores was able to start her own business and uplift her family from poverty. Dolores’s story is a prime example of how far a little bit of help can go in the developing world.

Poverty is currently one of the biggest issues facing our world today. Fortunately, there have been major advancements in reducing poverty in developing countries in the past twenty years as the poverty rate has halved from 43 percent in 1990 to 21 percent in 2010. This fact is encouraging and proves that despite popular belief we can actually rid poverty from our world. However, even with major improvements, 1.4 billion people in the developing world live on less than $1.25 a day and seventy percent of that 1.4 billion are women. Strong Women, Strong World is aware of this issue and works hard to eliminate this problem. One of the many ways in which we work to do this is through our microfinance programs. As shown through Dolores’s story, women can raise not only themselves but their families from poverty. All it takes is just a little bit of money to get them started.

Research has shown that women tend to invest their loans more wisely then men. Women are almost three times more likely to reinvest their money in their children, providing a powerful generational cycle that can only help eradicate poverty. According to Opportunity International, women will spend 90 percent of their income on their families, while men typically spend only 35 percent. Dolores is one of the many examples of how women work to not only alter their own direction but their children’s as well.

Women have also been able to gain empowerment through micro-loans by changing the sexist bearings in their communities. In cultures with traditional patriarchal dominance, women are forced to rely on men for economic stability and support. Since women are often not valued in these communities, they have little say or role in the family and community. When women are given financial support to start their own businesses, it allows for them to rise above the oppression and have agency with their family and children. Continue to help eradicate poverty and gender inequality through our economic development program. As shown in Dorlore’s story, just a little bit can change not only a woman’s life but her children’s as well.

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