By PDG Nick Frankle

Over 700 million people, constituting 10% of the global population, live on less than $1.90 a day. Amidst the challenges posed by the COVID-19 crisis, conflicts, and climate change, these numbers are expected to rise. Addressing poverty, especially for the most vulnerable, is at the core of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and takes centre stage in Goal 1: No Poverty.

In line with this, Rotarians channel their efforts through the Community Economic Development Area of Focus, aiming to bring measurable and enduring economic improvements to people's lives and communities. This approach proves instrumental in poverty reduction, helping individuals build assets, increase incomes, and lessen vulnerability to economic stress.

Microfinance, a category pioneered by Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, targets individuals and small businesses without access to conventional banking. It invests in people, providing capital for business startups, and fostering financial independence, even without collateral. The benefits of microfinance extend far and wide:

  • Supports self-sufficiency and entrepreneurship
  • Empowers women
  • Enhances family capabilities for better nutrition, living conditions, and improved health and education for children
  • Builds communities by fostering prosperity among individual businesses

Rotarians globally have successfully implemented microfinance projects, comprising six key components:

  1. Community assessment
  2. Education
  3. Capital
  4. Mentoring
  5. Networking
  6. Evaluation

The Rotary Action Group for Community Economic Development (RAGCED) is a key resource, offering expertise and support to clubs and Rotarians venturing into successful and sustainable microfinance projects. RAGCED assists in community needs assessments, project planning and implementation, business education, mentoring, and impact analysis methodologies.

By fostering successful microfinance initiatives, RAGCED not only aids in poverty alleviation but also lays the groundwork for additional projects that bring about positive change. Together, communities and Rotarians can collaborate across various focus areas to drive transformation.

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"Our movement is not just about money, it is about unlocking human dreams. We seek to employ financial capital to unleash human potential." — Nobel Peace Prize Laureate