Community Development |
Micro-Enterprise & Micro-Credit
Creative Small Ventures
Never underestimate the capacity of a low-income person to conceive of an innovative response to feed her/his family!
The simple gesture of identifying needed products and services or discovering a niche where there is unfulfilled demand is a universal human phenomena. In a more agrarian world, people used their efforts to grow food for consumption and developed markets for barter and exchange. When money entered the picture and provided a currency to facilitate those exchanges, larger transactions became possible. For people without access to capital, their livelihood is usually from harvest to harvest or from paycheck to paycheck. With resources (access to loans as one example) they can secure raw materials or buy inventory for resale, and thereby have the opportunity for greater self-reliance within today's economic system.
“Microcredit lending has become a major innovation in anti-poverty and economic development programs around the world. The core philosophy of microcredit lending programs is that poor people are best able to help themselves when they are granted access to the same kinds of market mechanisms that sustain much of the “real” economy, particularly access to credit. Small loans, sometimes as little as a few dollars, are given to individuals that may lack access to traditional banking institutions. These funds become the foundation for modest investments and improvements in quality of life that many economists believe may help to reduce poverty and foster long term economic development.” ~ Via International partner TransBorder Institute
San Diego Micro-Enterprise Project
Via International works with partner organizations to support micro-credit and micro-enterprise loan groups through the San Diego Micro-Enterprise Project in communities of San Diego, California. The objective is to develop micro-entrepreneurs to address poverty in areas hit hardest by the economic downturn. The program will disburse the first loans in fall 2009. Collaborating in the work with Via International are:
- University of San Diego School of Business
- Bayside Community Center
- La Maestra Community Health
- Pt. Loma Nazarene University
- San Diego City College
“We must not lose the stories of the people. Their lives are changed by the opportunity to meet, share experiences as well as develop their businesses.” ~ Elena Cruz, La Maestra Loan Coordinator
Los Niños Micro-Enterprise Program
Via’s sister organization, Los Niños, has provided small consumer and microcredit loans in Tijuana and Mexicali, Mexico, for five years.
Working with a group solidarity model, the mini-businesses are primarily for the sale of homemade products and resale ventures. These include ingredients and materials for the sale of tamales, pizza, confections, honey and derivatives, and other home-produced items. Resale items include sale of kitchen items, candy and miscellaneous snack items, paper and personal hygiene products, clothing, jewelry, shoes and purses, and cosmetics. Consumer loans are used for home improvement, school expenses and medical and dental emergencies.
In collaboration with the University of San Diego Trans-Border Institute, research of the program has served to support acquisition of capital and program awareness objectives.
SHARE Guatemala Micro-Credit Program
In support of SHARE de Guatemala’s microcredit initiative, Via is active in supporting regional alliances to secure additional capital. Seed capital is predominantly used for agricultural loans and for the development of rural markets. Other purposes include housing and small consumption. In addition to offering microcredit, SHARE provides training in management of resources and finance. The activities are focused on supporting families to exceed subsistence living and have surpluses they can bring to market and secure funds for other family needs such as health and education.