The names and situation may be fictional, but
the story is real. Women around the world are in similar situations
and FINCA boasts many similar true stories of women who have
succeeded in situations like Deidai’s. According to the
FINCA Mexico website, the foundation opened in 1989 and today
is helping more than 8,000 people. Most of the businesses are
small, but their owners are able to send their children to
school and buy food, shelter, and medicine.
The Foundation for International Community
Assistance (FINCA) provides women a way to support their families.
Instead of being
offered charity, women are offered loans to help start up their
own businesses. FINCA tends to help more women than men, since
women are the poorest in the country and are responsible for
their family. In Mexico, according to an article on the New York
Times Web site, the men are often gone or dead, leaving women
alone to support themselves and their children.
FINCA International, today, has networks
in 20 countries. It resembles the model of The Grameen Bank,
developed in 1976 by
Professor Muhammed Yunus and his colleagues, which provides credit
to the poorest rural parts of Bangladesh. From this model, FINCA’s
founder, John Hatch, developed Village Banking, which provides
loans to poor women who guarantee each other’s loans with “moral
collateral,” since they have no physical collateral. Unlike
the Grameen Bank, Hatch’s method allows all the women to
take out loans at the same time, rather than rotating a single
loan to one woman at a time.
Through the loan assistance, women and their
families are given a chance to earn their money instead of
being given charity.
The banking groups are collectively running
credit and savings associations of 20 to 50 women. The typical
member is a mother
who lives off $3 or less a week to support herself and her children.
Joining the Village Banking group, she is eligible to receive
$50, a self-employment loan.
The loans are given in a four-month cycle
and are paid in weekly installments. A minimum of 20 percent
of the loans is required
to be set aside for savings. After paying off their first loan,
they are able to borrow again. The amount of the second loan
depends on the saving that they have accumulated.
According to FINCA, loans are rotated over
and over again, and this multiplies the resources. In the course
dollar invested creates $15 in loans and $3 in savings.
According to FINCA’s findings, as a business grows,
so does the family’s income. Their health and nutrition
begins to improve. Home repairs begin and self-confidence grows.
Through FINCA, it is said that women become
more empowered. Their initiative and creativity are strengthened
as they choose
run their own businesses. Also, they are able to participate
in running their group, keeping their books, and deciding how
to invest their savings.
Today, Village Banking consists of 21 programs
that serve more than 194,000 families worldwide. FINCA provides
women the chance
to borrow money, start or expand their business, and become
financially independent through the process.
In Africa, many women are left alone to
financially take care of their young children, after their
husbands die of AIDS.
According to FINCA Uganda, Lukia Ssemmaobe was left to support
young children after her husband, the financial supporter of
the family, died of AIDS. Ssemmaobe sold clothing door-to-door
and at the marketplace. The $2 to $3 that she made every week
wasn’t enough to feed her children.
With a FINCA loan, Ssemmaobe rented a kitchen and worked
day and night making food. Today, Ssemmaobe is able to
children to school, and she adopted a little girl who lost
both her parents
FINCA repeats this story in poverty-stricken villages around
the world. For more information visit www.villagebanking.org.