Gigot Center

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Microfinance lecture: Never too poor to save

by Carol Elliott Notre Dame News and Information

November 13, 2008


“Never Too Poor to Save: The Other Side of Microfinance” is the title of a lecture to be delivered by Guy Vanmeenen of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) on Thursday, Nov. 13, 2008, starting at 4 p.m. in the Eck Center Auditorium with a reception and networking opportunities to follow. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Vanmeenen is Catholic Relief Services’ senior technical advisor for Microfinance in Africa and has 15 years experience in development and microfinance. CRS’ savings-led strategy, the Savings and Internal Lending Communities (SILC) model, has been rolled out in more than 22 African countries. CRS was recently awarded $8 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to use the model to help thousands of rural families in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda increase their savings and gain access to small loans.

SILC members are typically the poorest of the poor, mainly women, who have limited or no access to financial services. Often having a weekly savings capacity of just 10 cents to $1, SILC members slowly build their savings over time to increase their financial security. Groups also pool savings to provide members with small loans that are paid back with interest. These loans are often used to start a small business such as buying a goat for breeding or setting up a small kiosk shop to sell basic goods.

SILC groups provide members with a secure savings system, access to an internal loan fund, and a positive return on savings. These benefits help members increase assets and improve their quality of life. Most SILC groups also set up a special emergency fund that members can tap during crises, such as a family illness, increasing community resilience in times of hardships.

Faculty and students representing all colleges and disciplines are welcome to attend this event. The lecture is co-sponsored by the Mendoza College of Business and the Gigot Center for Entrepreneurial Studies’ Microventuring Certificate Program, the MBA Net Impact Club, the Ford Family Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity, and the Center for Social Concerns.

Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the U.S. Catholic community. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. For more information, please visit http://www.crs.org or http://www.crsespanol.org.

For more information about the lecture or the microfinance program at Notre Dame, contact Melissa Paulsen, Gigot Center program director, at (574) 631-7568 or Paulsen.5@nd.edu.

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