It is within the Micro-enterprise concept that small amounts of resources lead to potentially significant outcomes. What is the real worth of US $75.00? The answer depends on whether you are in the US, in Sierra Leone, in Nigeria, or in the Congo. In the US, it could be enough to fill up the gas tank, or the cost of a family’s casual dinner out – wine and tips excluded. In a typical African village, $75.00 is enough to launch an above-average local business venture. In the hands of a conscientious trader, a $75.00 loan could help a family break out of the cycle of poverty. In a reasonable period of time, the entrepreneur can become an employer, and the children’s education can be assured. A well-structured micro-credit program enables people to break out of the cycle of poverty and dependence.
Such a program recycles its resources over and over again. There is dignity in labor. In general, African women in rural villages are managers of their household economics. They are in charge of nutritional elements in the family, and they plan for the survival of their extended families – including those yet to be born. These women are mothers, wives, farmers, seamstresses, weavers, cooks, traders, home-grown nurses, etc. They go from one village market to another, sometimes covering a dozen miles on foot each day while balancing a baby on their back and merchandise on the head and hands. They work hard to earn their living.
The story starts with African women who “buy and sell” in order to support their families. Waking up very early in the morning, women roast several pounds of fresh peanuts and go to the school grounds to sell to school children and passers-by. She usually completes her sales by early afternoon. Her capital was less that $10. She makes a small profit each time. Since she has to buy food items for the family dinner from her profit, she is forced to remain in a perpetual cycle of doing the same things every day and not able to grow beyond where she has been for years. It is difficult for her to have any savings and grow her business because her capital is so limited. She has a viable business, a good chance for growth, but very limited capital. This is where a well-structured micro-credit assists the women to become self sufficient.