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micro-finance loans for women

a future leader of Liberia

This summer my wife and I sent $600.00 to a United Methodist missionary in Kinshasa, DR Congo, to loan to 20 HIV positive women living together. Several women used the money to buy a sewing machine and clothe and are producing shirts, dresses and uniforms in beautiful color and design.

Another couple of women are walking out to the farm country and returning with produce to sell.

The theory is, they will pay the money back, so it can be loaned again to another small group of women, or to expand their own projects.

I'm wondering whether anyone is interested in forming a loose-knit micro-finance bank to loan money to women?

As an alternative, we could each give a few dollars to Jensine's organization, and have the Board decide who to send it to quarterly. If we all give one dollar a month, there could be up to $500.00 in a quarter, enough to give someone a hand where needed, maybe buy pencils or bandaids.

I have collected tons of information about starting and running a micro-finance bank, and how-to books from the founder of Grammen Bank.

peace and love,



JMKELLAM's picture

Great start


That is such a wonderful idea. I like the thought of the never ending $600 that can eventually reach every group in need of some start up. You and your wife should feel wonderful.

I wonder if a bank would be a good partner for your suggestion. They certainly have the means. Have you looked into that?

With admiration,

Jenna Kellam

William's picture

small loans for women

Hi Jenna,

There are some international banks involved now. The situation is that there hasn't been enough money to meet the needs. Micro-finance is a wonderful program that is helping the poorest of the poor.


tabby's picture

good idea

hi william,

this is a very good kenya we have so many micro finnaces..i wish there would be one lending to the HIV+ woman.very good idea.


William's picture


Hi Tabby,

I understand there are a number of programs in Kenya. We are members of the United Methodist Church. Try to contact someone with the church and ask if one is established there. Put your ideas down on paper. Please let me know the answer and your thoughts. What part of Kenya are you from? Please know that you are not alone--we are all connected.
peace and love sister,

Dave Alexander's picture

Loan Management

Hello William,

I am ignorant on micro-finance except for the basic concept. Perhaps the question I am about to ask is ignorant, but I shall ask it anyway.

It seems to the me that if the risk of loss is low and the management is well implemented at low percentage, that micro finance would be staggeringly attractive to Americans. It seems like a fabulous way to capitalize change without personal loss. So what, in your research, is the show-slower to literally tens-of-thousands of people loaning a few hundred dollars?

In Friendship, Dave...

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world."
-- Mohandas K. Gandhi

William's picture

what is micro-finance?

Hi Dave,
There are no dumb questions in life. Micro-finance or small loans, was started by Mr. Muhammad Yunus in Bangladesh, when he loaned several women (like) $50.00 to buy supplies and cut out a middle man who supplied the supplies but insisted the people sell what they produce to him at a price stipulated before hand.

When the mostly women were able to buy supplies on the open market, they realized a decent profit and were able to pay the $50.00 back in weekly installments, including a very small interest. The pay back rate was like 98%, as the folks borrowed the money as a group. They had to approve of the enterprises the members wanted to pursue, then paid off the loan as a group, from profits.

Grameen Bank has now loaned small amounts, like $10.00 or $20.00 to a group and when they pay it back, they can apply for a larger loan. Mr. Yunus took this action in (like) in 1975 and the Grameen Bank has exploded in size and borrowers. In fact 90% of the bank is owned by the borrowers, which is in the millions now. They have branched out into other enterprises and have made a nice profit. The bank has become so large that money has has been borrowed by Grameen, so the interest they charge is slightly more (like 10%).

Many organizations, like our United Methodist Church, have duplicated this program--where money is loaned, instead of being handed out. It is proving to be extremely successful and the borrowers feel pride and accomplishment by their efforts. There are many, many capable people out there who only need some guidelines and ready capital to succeed. The wonderful part of micro-finance is that the pay-back rate is like 90-98%. Since the money is borrowed as a group, the borrowers help and support each other.

Your question, Dave, why aren't there tens of thousands of these banks, is answered simply: there has to be transparency of funds; people have to be willing to invest in someone else's future and education about the need and possibilities.

I am really excited what 20 women did with the $600.00 my wife and I sent them. And they are excited. We will never see the money again, as I didn't make that a stipulation, but "savings banks" pay interest to the person putting up the funds.

More later. I have a lot of information and knowledge about this topic and am willing to share it, say at a coffee in Portland, or something. There is too much to put on a blog.

Sweet dreams about what could happen if 100 people in Portland didn't buy Christmas gifts, but pooled their money instead. A micro finance bank usually starts with $2,500.00, and that would be how much they would divert by just not spending at Christmas. It's a very achievable goal. Anybody want to meet some Saturday for coffee?
peace and joy,

Dave Alexander's picture

Saturday for Brunch

Friend William,

Thank you for the primer, and beginning of my understanding. I would definitely like to meet some Saturday soon.

In Friendship, Dave...

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world."
-- Mohandas K. Gandhi

William's picture

getting together for coffee

Hi Dave,

Second surgery tomorrow, so give me a week or two and I'll meet you. I live in McMinnville, so Portland is close.

heatherc67's picture

Prof. Yunus

Hi William,

I read this post and your comments. I too have researched Prof. Yunus a great deal and found he has one of the prominent micro-credit programs out there. Have you read his latest book "Creating World without Poverty"? He introduces the concept of creating Social Business (not like socially responsible enterprises) where the profits go to cause after the investors are paid back. St. John's University recently launched his concept into a MBA program.

There are two methods in achieving the goals of a Social Business. First one is what I explained above where the profits after the investment is paid back goes to a social cause such as schools, clinics and such. The second one is allowing poor people to have ownership like what he did with Grameen Bank.

With all trouble in the financial markets, it is much harder to find donors for charity, but if someone knows that their money can be reused to help a greater cause then the return is greater than just money.

I hope this program is working for you.



ikirimat's picture

Brillliant Ideas

I loved reading your ideas. How far has this initiative gone. In Uganda we has many micro finance firms. But we have small women groups who have come together with a common purpose, pool together few resources/funds or find a lender but decide to have a revolving giving. such that every week or month they contribute an agreed amount to the fund and give to a member for a specific time (week or 2).

This has been very helpful to these women groups

Grace Ikirimat

"It takes the hammer of persistence to drive the nail of success."

Hi William,

I am glad to come across this post, even many years later.

I have an idea: let's start a WorldPulse group on Kiva and invite members of this community to join. We have the option of recommending loan criteria or championing a few lenders each month as we see fit. I'd be happy to captain the initiative. The site is very well done, but there are lots of aspects of the Kiva culture that enhance it any more. Take a look around and see what you think - you may even be a member by now if this is something you've long been interested. My loan page is here to help you get started: I am an admitted addict.

The short version, and all you really know, is that Kiva makes $25 interest free loans which are paid back within a length of time that could be a few months or a few years. The lenders are mostly in developing countries working on small busines initiatives: from fruit and vegetable sellers at a local market in Kenya to those working to make their houses more energy efficient in Mongolia.

I feel passionately about Kiva and tend to write too much about it, so I'll stop here and let you explore and get back to me with your thoughts if you are interested.

On a last note, anyone who recommends a friend earns a loan, so if we start a WorldPulse team we could create a chain of recommenders so everyone has that added benefit of an extra loan to get started with.

Look forward to your thoughts, William.
In admiration of your support of women,

~ Maya

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