Every year on Mother’s day, we take time out to recognize and appreciate the mothers who have given and nurtured life in all of us. However, this adoration should not be reserved to just one day. Around the world, especially in developing countries, women are often economically disenfranchised and are disproportionately affected by the burdens of poverty.
So what does microfinance have to do with mother’s day? As has been thoroughly discussed on this blog, microfinance from the beginning has had a focus on empowering women. There are many methods to build female empowerment in developing countries, including education and family planning, but few to attain financial empowerment in the same way that microfinance is able to. One benefit of microfinance is that it directly puts control and capital into the hands of a family’s matriarch. According to microfinance founder Mohammad Yunus, women are more likely to spend new earnings on necessities and their children’s education.
When a family is fighting against poverty and hunger, usually children’s education takes a backseat to daily survival. In these cases, children forgo education to earn money for their family to survive, but also then divert from their studies and make breaking the cycle of poverty much harder in the future. When women and mothers are empowered economically, children are more likely to continue with their schooling and give their family better future financial prospects. In fact, in the grand majority of the lender stories on the Wisconsin Microfinance website, the first thing parents do is send their child back to school.
After all, microfinance is not about bettering the margins of a small business owner, but rather improving the quality of life of entire families and communities. A successful microloan does so much more than help business become profitable, it helps families to rise up and escape the cycle of poverty that they may have been tethered to for generations. Through the empowerment of women and the ability to boost entire communities, microfinance is unique in its capacity to not only change financial circumstances but gender roles as well.
In the words of Melinda Gates, ”when money flows in to the hands of women, everything changes.” The women and mothers who are given capital are given the ability to decide their future, be their own boss, and set an example for their children. The impact of a successful loan reaches far beyond its sixth month period, but into the next generation as well. And for all the mothers of the world, fighting to make the lives of their children, and their children’s children better, we say thank you.