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Published:October 23rd, 2006 10:41 EST
Go Fish

Go Fish

By Sean Stubblefield

I am an advocate of a policy inherent in the Chinese proverb that says, Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. " I am also an opponent of poverty. Which is why the concept of micro-financing appeals to me, and why " while searching for a charity I feel comfortable donating large sums of money to " I chose to contribute to an organization that conducts and uses micro-financing.

The Grameen Foundation and Opportunity International are such organizations. The philosophy behind micro-financing is teaching men and women to fish-- metaphorically, so that they have an opportunity and resources to remove themselves from poverty through their own efforts. Rather than simply giving poverty stricken people money " ultimately an ineffectually short term solution ", micro-financing enables and empowers those in poverty to become self-sustaining, indefinitely.

The process, itself, is also self-sustaining in its cyclical nature, since the money that goes out is returned/ recycled to help other families struggling with poverty. Although approximately 90% of these loans are repaid, there are no guarantees that borrowers will prosper, will be able to repay in full, or adequately achieve any enduring, substantial benefit from these loans.

Actual results may vary according to particular economic conditions, business considerations and monetary applications of the borrower. Moderately poor may sometimes gain more from these loans than extremely poor. And these loans are only available as and for business investments. It does not cover anything else, such as healthcare, housing or tuition.

But in utilizing these loans, those kinds of amenities become potentially more attainable. Overall, micro-financing has proven to be a very effective tool for diminishing poverty, in its range of influence. Agencies like Grameen and Opportunity collect financial contributions for distribution to micro-financing institutions, on an as needed/ as available basis. With micro-financing programs, also known as micro-enterprising, men and woman may borrow money from micro-finance agencies to start a business or assist an existing one expand or improve as a means of reducing, if not completely overcoming, poverty.

Because this loan provides the method and incentive for borrowers to pay back the lender by supporting income generating businesses, it is a mutually beneficial investment " a win-win situation. The lender and the borrower help each other, which makes it possible to help even more people escape the undignified and debilitating blight of poverty. The borrower`s financial success is the lender`s success, as repaid loans get redistributed.

 Micro-financing is a practical and functional mechanism for making capitalism work for those in poverty instead of against them. The more money that goes in from charitable donations and loan repayment, the more money that goes out to others, and the more they are able to help people out of poverty. And all donations are tax deductible. More than just lending money, however, micro-financing organizations may also offer management and business instruction, training and technology assistance, banking services, insurance and devising various innovative strategies for eradicating poverty.

As they rise from poverty, these people are more able to attain better nourishment, better education, better healthcare, better maneuverability and better quality of life. Never underestimate the ripple effect. The more that people are able to do, the more they potentially can and will do. As these micro-financed businesses increase productivity and stability, the more people they may help with their goods and services.