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.
When Maritza was just 19, a woman in her village started an argument with her and threw a poisonous liquid in her eyes, rendering her incurably blind. She refused to treat her blindness as a weakness, and remained determined to use her skills to earn a living. She took out a loan of 5,031 pesos (US $150) from Esperanza, a Grameen Foundation partner, and began to sell ice cream and cookies. Her business has now grown after taking out a second loan of 12,132 pesos (USD $360), and she earns $300 per month. She now owns a refrigerator to keep drinks and other refreshments, and a freezer to store more ice cream. Maritza is married with two teenage children, and she has been the sole breadwinner of the household for the last two years, receiving no support from her husband. She is even learning Braille so that she can become even more independent, never allowing her blindness to stand in her way. She says, “I like to work on my own because I do not like t