More than one billion people are condemned to live on less than $1 per day. Such a crisis demands tangible solutions, and when put into practice on a wide scale, microfinance can help the poor escape poverty
With $225, a woman can start a bakery in India and support her family as a widow. Mary, a 45 year-old widow, was only educated up until primary school. When she lost her husband, she was left with few options to earn a living. Working as a laborer in a bakery unit, she could hardly make ends meet. However, Mary enjoyed the baking process and wanted to start a small bakery by herself. She lacked the means to make her dream a reality. Female friends and acquaintances she knew told her about a local microfinance program called ESAF Savings and Credit Programme. She researched local bakeries and learned how to make hers a success. Then she took her first loan of 10,000 rupees (USD $225) to start her own production unit for baked goods. With the assistance of their staff, she purchased two ovens and raw materials in bulk, and soon took out a second loan of $225 to expand her business. After two years Mary’s success has been inspiring. Her family has been able to pay off their debts and they now enjoys financial security.