What is Microfinance?
People in poverty do not have access to the commercial lending banks. Where finance may be available, unscrupulous loan sharks take advantage of borrowers by charging exorbitant interest, leading the family into perpetual poverty. This can lead to selling of children or carrying debt that continues over several generations. Women seeking to finance a small business such as tailoring, selling or small-scale manufacturing are locked into this poverty cycle.
Microfinance helps by providing families with the opportunity to take out small loans to either start or grow their business. Once they are approved for the loan, they become part of the microfinance community and meet weekly to discuss business ideas and also encourage each other in their daily lives. This strategy not only helps financially but also encourages them to think about what they would like to achieve and how they can do that.
“I’ve seen the power of microfinance all over the world in the eyes of mothers and fathers. It’s unmistakable—the joy and deep satisfaction they feel from being able to work hard and provide for their children and their future.” Rich Stearns - President, World Vision U.S
For example, one client in the Philippines borrowed $30 to purchase some chickens. She sells the eggs and chickens she raises. Over a few months she was able to repay the small loan at a very low interest rate and has now tripled her assets and has enough income to feed her children three healthy meals a day. In some cases women are then able to employ other women. Microfinance loans to women have proven very successful, and almost 100% of loans are repaid in full. Loan recipients are asked to form groups of five to support and encourage each other and to assist each other to repay the loan. The project lenders provide training and business skills to these groups. This empowers the women as they provide their own solution to generations of poverty and further creates a sisterhood of caring.
Our strategy is to create jobs, small businesses and strengthen poor communities in impoverished countries. Our method is to work through local partner organisations to provide finance with training and support.
“Give a man a fish, [and] he’ll eat for a day. Give a woman microcredit, [and] she, her husband, her children, and her extended family will eat for a lifetime.” - Bono, U2 Lead Singer
Back in 2011, in a small rural community, nine women and twenty-two children crammed into a small, broken down wooden house. They knew they’d been all but abandoned to the fate many HIV/AIDS patients in Cambodia know – an untimely death. These women, shunned by their family and community, were mostly unable to work and support themselves or their children. The ‘beliefs’ in the community prevented them from selling goods in the local markets, and physical labour in the fields proved to be difficult due to their ill health, not to mention the physical lines drawn on the ground they were not allowed to pass over.
Amidst this destructive stigma, our partners stepped in and the rest is history. Today Flourish Cambodia offers a pleasant atmosphere for amazing women who’s lives have truly been transformed. Their principle goal - don’t become aid dependent, rather build an empowered community of women that will work hard for fair trade wages to bring financial freedom for themselves, and reach out to other HIV/AIDS sufferers in their community and empower them also.
Sustainable Livelihoods through food security brings the resilience necessary to weather poverty in communities that may have once seen crop failure. Best land care practice from mentoring and sustainability programs provide good harvests and higher crop prices in local markets.
Building capacity in impoverished communities through agricultural development brings the means to keep children in school, food in tummies and provide a safety net for poor families.