The idea of microcredit is not a new one but in recent years has begun to be seen as a hand-up to those living in poverty. The United Nations declared 2005 International Year of Microcredit. Microcredit is a way to spur entrepreneurship, generate income and in many cases exit poverty. Women are playing a greater role in these innovative financial services largely due to Dr. Muhammad Yunus and the microfinance organization he founded, Grameen Bank, with 97% of its borrower’s women.
Why focus on women in microfinance? As Nicholas Kristof states in his article The Women’s Crusade it is “global poverty’s dirty little secret”, that men are unwise spenders. Kristof goes on to say that in the developing world the poorest families spend 10 times more on alcohol, prostitution, candy, sugary drinks and lavish meals than on education. When assets are placed in the hands of women more money is likely to be spent on nutrition, education and housing which in turn leads to healthier children and families.
ASAPROSAR has been engaged in microfinance since 1993 when it created the Fondo de Apoyo (Support Fund) as a financial credit structure, through a project financed by the “Inter-American Foundation”. In 1994 it became the Microcredit Development Program, which promoted and financially supported the micro-enterprise sector of the Western El Salvador. This population usually has no access to the formal financial system. With the help of ASAPROSAR the people are engaged in the development of productive activities in the subsistence sector.