ABOUT GLOBAL POVERTY
1.3 billion people worldwide live in absolute poverty,
living on less than $1 U.S. per day. 70% of them are women.
35,000 children a day die before their fifth birthday from
hunger-related diseases or chronic malnutrition.
The average income of the richest 20% of the world's people
is now 61 times that of the poorest 20%, compared to a 30-to-one ratio three decades ago.
The net worth of the 358 richest people is equal to the
combined income of the 2.3 billion poorest people in the world.
The self-employed poor comprise from 50 to 70% of the labor
force in developing countries. More than 500 million of them run microbusinesses. Fewer
than 10 million of these or a mere 2.5% can obtain loans from banks or financial
The poorest 20% of the world's population accounts for less
than 1% of world trade and investments.
Capital markets transact $1.3 trillion per day. By
contrast, microlending volume worldwide is approximately $30 million per day -- a ratio of
43,333 to 1.
The World Bank reports that 30 million microloans are
presently made worldwide per year. The total number is growing at a rate of 30 to 40% per
year. The total market for microloans is estimated to be several hundred million people.
Grameen Bank in Bangladesh has lent more than $2 billion to
more than 2 million villagers, most of them women. The average loan is less than $100.
A study conducted by Prof. David Gibbons of the Malaysia
University of Science revealed that over 50% of Grameen members studied escaped poverty
over a ten-year period, compared to only 5% in a control group. Gibbons also observed a
significant elevation of the Grameen women's status within their own households.
Most microcredit programs report repayment rates of between
95 and 100%, better than those of many commercial banks worldwide.
The World Bank, in partnership with 25 other major donors, has created a fund of $300
million to support microcredit.
Women represent about 40% of the world's paid labor force.
In non-agricultural work, the average woman's wage is only three-fourths that of a man.
Research in India by Women's World Banking reveals that 92%
of the income earned by women from microloans goes back into the household economy,
compared to 42% of the income earned by men.