Washington, DC, November 1, 2006 Three weeks after the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced that Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus and the bank he founded thirty years ago won the Nobel Peace Prize, the Microcredit Summit announced that more than 113 million clients received tiny loans last year to start or expand small businesses, 82 million of whom were among the world’s poorest people. The Nobel Laureate and Grameen Bank founder serves on the Microcredit Summit Campaign’s Executive Committee. The Campaign’s annual report provides a crucial benchmark for the growth of the field. A program of the U.S. anti-poverty group RESULTS Educational Fund, the Microcredit Summit sought to reach 100 million of the world’s poorest families with microcredit by the end of 2005, a goal it now expects to reach by the end of 2006. According to Yunus’ biographer, David Bornstein, the progress of the Microcredit Summit Campaign “represents one of the few times that a major development promise is going to be fulfilled—and remarkably close to schedule.” Campaign officials said that new goals for 2015 will be launched at the Global Microcredit Summit to be held November 12-15, 2006 in Halifax, Canada. The Campaign was launched in 1997, when only 7.6 million very poor families were reached worldwide with microloans. Between 1997 and 2005 the Campaign’s overall growth has been 978 percent, averaging 34 percent per year. Globally, 847 microfinance practitioners submitted their data in 2006. These 847 institutions had 88 percent of all the poorest clients reported. The 2006 report includes data gathered from more than 3,100 institutions worldwide and finds that of the 82 million poorest reached, 84 percent are women. Campaign officials spoke of how the microloans touch entire families by improving nutrition, access to healthcare, and school enrollment. “The loans to 82 million poorest clients affected 410 million family members,” said Campaign Director, Sam Daley-Harris, “a number greater than the combined populations of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Belgium. These microloans are giving hope to hundreds of millions of people around the world.” Loans are used for a wide range of business activities including low-tech ventures such as selling milk and eggs, making tortillas, or producing handicrafts, as well as high-tech enterprises like selling solar-powered cellular phone time in rural areas without land-line phone service. Balkisu Amadu, one of the millions of poor women helped by these loans, owns a small roadside food stand in Ghana. Her stand is nothing more than a simple table covered with a cloth beside a coal fire for cooking. For years, she made no more than 81 cents a day profit. Desperate to increase her income and provide for her family, just over a year ago, Balkisu joined an Opportunity International Ghana Trust Bank. After four loans, her income has more than quadrupled – today she makes $4 a day. She has learned to manage her income effectively and now has enough not only to provide for her family, but also to continually reinvest in her business. As a priority of utmost importance, reducing poverty and targeting the poorest of the poor, and responding to the First Millennium Developmental Goal called for by the World Millennium Summit, United Nations, during the Summit Conference of the World Leaders in Sept. 2000, AGFUND has adopted many mechanisms and approaches within its frame work of policies to alleviate poverty:
- Supporting Institutional Capacity Building for institutions and national organizations working in the field of microcredit.
- Establishing Banks for the Poor in the Arab countries. AGFUND launched the National Bank of Microcredit in Amman-Jordan during the year 2006, being the first Bank of its kind to be established on the Arab Region, and is still working with other concerned Arab governments to expand this experience and establish Banks for the Poor in other Arab States.
- Co-organizing the Middle East/Africa Region Microcredit Summit Meeting of Councils in cooperation with the Jordanian Government and the Microcredit Summit Campaign in Amman- Jordan, 10-13 October 2004, with sound participation from Arab and African countries, during which HRH Prince Talal Bin Abdulaziz, AGFUND President, announced AGFUND’s initiative to setup an Arab African Apex Fund for Microcredit in the Arab region and Africa.
- AGFUND has also allocated MICROCREDIT as the main theme for its International Prize for Pioneering Development Projects (Year 2005)