June 30th, 2009
A few colleagues and I just completed a trip to Central America where we visited several NGOs with whom we partner on micro-financing projects. You may be asking, so what in the world is micro-financing? Essentially, micro-financing (also known as micro-enterprising or micro-credit) focuses on providing small start-up loans (usually $100 – $500 each) to individuals in resource-poor settings that enable them to create small, community-based businesses to improve their livelihood. This is a growing phenomenon over the past several years; thousands of organizations are doing a wide range of projects around the world.
Micro-financing appears to be an excellent platform upon which to deliver small business training and health education messages in community-based settings.
Our trip included stops in Costa Rica and El Salvador where we visited remote locations to see firsthand just how the concept of micro-financing plays out. A few examples…
In Costa Rica, we partner with Fundebase and APACO on projects that provide loans and a dose of health education, disease prevention, and wellness programs to local communities along the way. We visited with a mother and daughter in Santa Cruz de León Cortéz, for instance, who received a loan to start a sweater-knitting business. The loan enabled them to purchase a knitting machine, yarns and other materials to take a first step.