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DEVELOPMENT REPORT – November 10, 2003: Microcredit Summit Campaign - 2003-11-09

This is Robert Cohen with the VOA Special English Development Report.

In many developing nations, more than fifty percent of workers are self-employed. They might move from temporary job to temporary job. Or they may own a small business. Many poor people would like to start a business, but cannot get a bank loan.

One tool to fight poverty is the use of microcredit loans. These are small loans for poor people who want to turn self-employment projects into businesses. In some countries, the loans may start out as small as twenty dollars. People may also receive training to learn how to operate a business.

In nineteen-ninety-seven, delegates from one-hundred-thirty-seven nations attended a conference in Washington, D.C. They agreed to give microcredit loans to one-hundred-million of the world's poorest families by two-thousand-five.

An organization in the United States called the Results Educational Fund supports the campaign. It says more than forty-one-million families around the world have received microcredit so far. The Results Educational Fund says the nine-year campaign is well on the way to its goal.

The Microcredit Summit Campaign brings together lenders, aid groups, educators, non-governmental organizations and others. The campaign has four main ideas. The first is to reach the poorest families in each country. The World Bank estimates that over one-thousand-million people live on less than one dollar a day.

The second goal is to reach out especially to women. Campaign officials say experience shows that women are less likely than men to waste their earnings. They say women are more likely to invest their profits in their families and businesses. So the campaign seeks to give women more power.

The third goal is to create loan organizations that are financially strong. And the fourth is to make sure the programs have a measurable effect on the lives of the families that receive microcredit.

There are more than two-thousand-five-hundred microcredit organizations around the world. Campaign officials say most do charge interest, but often use their earnings to reach more people. They also say that some banks have seen the success of microcredit and recognized it as a good market.

The Web site for the campaign is microcreditsummit, all one word, dot o-r-g.

This VOA Special English Development Report was written by Jill Moss. I’m Robert Cohen.