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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 institutions.

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.

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