Can you change the world with $20? Economist Muhamma Yunus believes you can. In 1983, Yunus started Grameen Bank, which has served over 50 million people in developing countries secure microloans to pull them out of abject poverty. While researching in the 1970s, Yunus found that a $27 loan could help propel impoverished workers to both care for their families and expand their small businesses. Workers in poverty often must use local loan sharks, which creates and entrenches a poverty cycle from which it is all but impossible to break. In fact, of the three billion adults in the world that lack access to legal credit worldwide, only 4% of these will escape poverty. Two-thirds of the world’s adult lack access to legal banks in developing countries. And Yunus finds this unacceptable. Microlending has exploded in the past decades, helping many women and men to create more advantageous economic situations for themselves, their businesses, and their families.
And microloans build economic equality for women, especially. In developing countries, whereas 46% of men have access to bank accounts, only 37% of women are in a similar situation. In Africa, for example, women receive less than 10% of credit provided to farmers, but make up 60% of the rural labor workforce. 82.3% of microloan borrowers are women, and these microloans can help break a cycle of destitute poverty, increasing quality of life for women, men, families, and, indeed, communities. For-profit lenders, on the other hand, make poverty much worse, often charging impossibly high interest rates for the sake of a few bucks. Non-profit microlenders with stellar reputations include: Accion International, the Opportunity Fund, Women’s Initiative, and the Business Center for New Americans. Your $20 gift can mean a difference in quality of life for families and communities in the developing world.