June 15, 2008 - News

Microfinance, Macroimpact
A few weeks ago, I wrote in The Province business section about the Canadian division of a microfinance non-profit called Opportunity International that funds banks for the poor in 28 countries. What I didn't get to write about was other microfinance fundraising initiatives launched right here in B.C. On Vancouver Island, for instance, some small donors to OI Canada are making a big difference. Campbell River Christian School teacher Leona Marks runs a small-business project that in 2005 saw students plan and run a business and donate $1,500 in profits to microfinance. In 2007, they raised $3,800 for OI clients in Colombia. “They learned how hard it is to start a business,” Marks says. “We talked about how people in the Third World can’t get a bank loan. If they do it’s usually from a loan shark with exorbitant rates. “The kids said ‘Let’s give our profits to people struggling to set up a business.’ It allows people to dig their way out of poverty with dignity.”