As a woman starting a business in America, I was very lucky to have easy access to capital even back in 2001 when I started Clarity Quest. My husband also owns a business and our experiences with banks are refreshingly the same. (Car buying is another story for another day.)
Not all self-employed individuals or small business owners have the same opportunities. Imagine being a woman starting a weaving business in Pakistan and struggling to get the funds to buy your materials! With the help of Kiva, many women in similar situations are given the support they need to get started. Kiva is an international non-profit that provides crowd-sourced microloans to business owners, students, farmers, etc. throughout the world. I believe economic stability is one of the main ingredients necessary for peace. That’s why when I discovered Kiva in 2006, I felt so strongly about supporting their mission. I had a history teacher in high school who said, “When people have jobs, contentions like religious differences become far less important. Many wars can be traced back to some form of economic inequality.” Microloans are one way to create more economic opportunities.
To date, Clarity Quest has made 104 Kiva loans to individuals in over 40 countries including Delfina, a skilled weaver in Mexico, pictured here. She needed to raise $2,100 to buy wool, dyes, and a new loom to produce Zapotec rugs, which she learned to weave from her parents. With the help of these funds, Delfina is growing her business and selling her rugs in international markets.
We’ve only had a 5% default rate, and I hate to say it, all the defaulters were men, and one lived in the United States! All women who received funds, even those living in war-torn countries, have paid back their loans to us. In fact, the VAST majority have paid their loans back on time.
I see more and more women starting businesses, not only in developed countries, but in areas throughout the world. Empowered women are able to create greater opportunities for themselves and their communities. And I think that’s something to be celebrated. We’re proud to do our small part to support their efforts.Empowered women are able to create greater opportunities for themselves and their communities. Click To Tweet