Frontiers of Justice, Travelogue

The Power of MicroFinance

On the third day of the Frontiers of Justice visit, the group traveled over two hours from Kaya to Manni to visit a CRS-supported microfinance program with women in one of the poorest regions of Burkina Faso. This entry was written by Jeff Goldsmith.

Women relating sucess stories

Jeff Goldsmith stands by the wall as he listens to the women relate their success stories.

We know poor people are poor because they’re lazy. Right? Well, that is what I hear from privileged students who stereotype the poor usually based on the panhandler in the corner.

The next time I hear this, I’m going to introduce my students to the village women of Manni. Since 2000 these women have been improving their lives in a microfinance project started by CRS. The premise is simple. Microfinancing loans small amounts to women (it has been proven that women have been the most responsible in terms of repayment) on a short term basis, at a reasonable interest rate, but without any collateral. The women desire to improve their lives and those of their children. The women are also given technical assistance on how they can best invest their money and form their village groups. The women of Manni have proven that when money is placed into poor people’s hands, they don’t waste it.

The women of Manni beamed as they shared their stories. There is currently over $900,000 in loans to over 10,000 customers from 165 villages in the regions surrounding Manni. The women use their loans to fatten their livestock for market, to produce millet beer or to buy and store millet which they resell when the market prices are best.

The goal? Education for their kids and food at the table especially during the hunger season. Not bad for a bunch of lazy poor people.

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