According to the United Nations, women earn an average of 60-75% what their male counterparts earn, and the resource disparity is widening each year around the world. This phenomenon is referred to as the feminization of poverty.
Several types of charities and organizations have been set up to combat this growing problem, but arguably the most effective is the rise of “microfinancing,” a financial service system targeted toward the historically marginalized and aiming to increase the agency of borrowers.
One such organization is the Women’s Microfinance Initiative, which targets women in extremely rural areas of Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania. The program features loans, training, and support for female entrepreneurs in rural areas of East Africa.
The organization’s founders focus on village and individual-level loans and training. This program ensures that people with little access to traditional banking services are bolstered by WMI. One important feature is the “Transition to Independent Banking” program, which helps successful entrepreneurs to cross-insure loans, provides training to benefactors, and eventually transition business into a traditional banking setting.
WMI continues to grow its impact each year, with 6,300 loans totaling $828,000 in 2015. Since its inception, WMI has issued over 22,500 loans totaling over $3.3 million, all to female entrepreneurs in rural areas of East Africa. The average loan is for $150, which often leads to a life-changing business for the awarded family.
WMI is a woman-led organization that helps marginalized women to help themselves. The founders realized that females were disproportionately impacted by poverty and found a way to give these women the resources needed to become leaders in their own communities and positively impact their regions. You can find ways to donate, intern, and volunteer here.