International Bulletin - Spring 1997
Summit Launches Global Microcredit Campaign for Poor
Washington DC - Representatives from PPSEAWA member countries joined delegates from over 100 countries in the first global microcredit Summit designed to help the world's poorest people turn their lives around February 2-4, 1996.
Heads of state and more than 2400 participants from public, private and non-profit organizations agreed to reach 100 million of the world's poorest with loans, especially women, by the year 2005. Microcredit involves providing very small loans to the world's poorest to help them start or expand self-employment ventures.
"This summit is a celebration of the courage and strength of very poor people," Summit Director Sam Daley-Harris believes. 'It is the celebration of the tenacity and commitment of the practitioners all around the world and of what more is possible as we work together."
In a final Communique from Heads of State and Government, H. E. Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh and co-chair of the Summit, reported that all pledge to work in partnership with organizations within their own country as well as with other world leaders to achieve these goals. "Success now depends on implementing action plans," she stresses. This is the first global summit of the 1990s to be convened by an NGO rather than the United Nations.
Japan's Parliamentary Delegation to the Microcredit Summit - former Prime Minister Tsutomu Hata, Councillor Ban Kugimiya and Councillor Wakako Hironaka-committed themselves "to convey the spirit of the Microcredit Summit to the Japanese government, private financial institutions, economic organizations and the public at large." They conclude that the ability of poor people to become economically independent and self-sustainable is "a major challenge which seriously affects the world peace and stability in the 21st century and is a human condition which cannot be overlooked."
Japan has been very active in launching microcredit related programs in Thailand with yen loans; India to the Small Industries Development Bank; and plans a follow-up within the Japanese Diet Parliamentarian League to establish a sub-group to support the
Microcredit Summit. "We are determined to support and promote grass roots assistance, especially the microcredit movement." They will urge the Japanese government to move to allocate ten percent to "grass roots assistance" of which one percent or approximately 100 million dollars would be assigned for the microcredit program.
The Japanese delegation considers this a major challenge "which seriously affects the world peace and stability in the 21st century and is a human condition which cannot be overlooked."
Many microcredit success stories worldwide have already been recorded. For example, in the PPSEAWA area, for example, Mao Eng of Cambodia with the help of a microcredit loan improved conditions for her whole family. Abandoned by her husband, she kept her seven children, made and sold fish cakes; worked as a day laborer. Three years ago, she joined a village microcredit association and now has developed new trade activities; owns a bicycle; trades more goods; gives better attention to her children and accumulates savings for the first time.
In another UNICEF sponsored micro-credit system in Vietnam, 97 percent of daughters of borrowers from microcredit systems have been able to attend school for the first time as compared with 73 percent of non-borrowers.
Organizers of the Microcredit Summit estimate that eight million very poor families currently have access to, microcredit but only a few of those in need are currently being served. The aim is to reach an additional 92 million very poor families by 2005.
In addition to top Asian participants also participating were HM Queen Sofia of Spain; First Lady Hillary Clinton of the United States; Dr. Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank; Dr. Siti Hasah, first lady of Malaysia; President, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda; President Alpha Oumar Konare of Mali; Prime Minister Pascoal M. Mocumbi of Mozambique.
A number of leading United Nations related officials also addressed the Summit giving full support. James Gustave Speth, Administrator, United Nations Development Program, assured delegates of support . 'I share with you a deep enthusiasm for what this remarkable tool can be in the future for poverty eradication... The most appropriate role for UNDP will be to finance developing country participants from all regions in the world to ensure the Summit is as global as possible."
Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of the United Nations Children's Fund, called the Summit "an important initiative and a crucial piece of the larger fight against poverty that the international community must support."
James D. Wolfensohn, President, World Bank, declared he is "personally, absolutely committed to this activity (microcredit)...I can see the importance particularly for women in Africa, and for women generally...if we can get credit to 100 million families with six a family, that's half the population of the world living on under a dollar a day."
The Microcredit Summit was organized by a private, non-profit organization called NGO Results Educational Fund, which will also serve as the Secretariat to implement the plan of action for the future.
Last Modified: June 05, 2010