This International Women’s Day, Opportunity International Australia is celebrating and honouring the millions of entrepreneurial women in developing countries who are using a small loan to start a business, earn a regular income and free themselves from poverty.
“When women are empowered, so too are their families, their communities and the world,” says Melissa Haupt, CEO of Lily Anne Family Brands.
Haupt, a keen supporter of Opportunity International Australia, believes the education of women and girls, improved sanitation and offering a ‘hand up’ are key to addressing poverty.
“We are lucky enough to live in a country where we have access to life’s simple things, like running water, education and finance,” Haupt says. “But that’s not the case for women and girls who live in developing nations.”
“Two out of every three women in Africa cannot read nor write and 2.4 billion people in developing countries still do not have basic sanitation facilities. And millions of women in developing countries don’t have access to their own bank account, let alone finance. Without these basics, women are stuck in a vicious cycle of poverty from one generation to the next.
Haupt says Lily Anne Family Brands invests in education, sanitation and micro loans through Opportunity International Australia and has set goals for social initiatives in each area.
Robert Dunn, Opportunity International Australia CEO, says International Women’s Day is an important catalyst “for driving transformational change for women, their families and local communities.”
“The theme this year, #BeBoldForChange, inspires us to take ground-breaking action that truly drives bold change.”
“Despite significant progress in recent years, women in developing countries are more likely than men to be illiterate, they earn lower amounts than men, and are less likely to have a bank account.
“This is unacceptable and drives Opportunity’s efforts to help women free themselves from poverty – whether it is through small loans to start and build income producing businesses; training them as health leaders in their local community, or providing educational loans so their children can go to school,” Dunn explains.
“It’s so inspiring to witness the bold actions women take to improve the life of their family and local community when they are given the opportunity to become more personally and economically empowered.”
Opportunity International Australia’s microfinance loans are used to invest in a mother living in poverty so that she can use a micro loan to buy an item like a sewing machine and start a small business.
To learn more about investing in entrepreneurial women living in poverty, head to the Opportunity International Australia website.