How microcredit works
Microcredit helps poor people overcome poverty. It’s a small loan – often less than $150 per person – to those too poor to qualify for bank financing. Unlike a handout, microcredit helps people become self-sufficient to generate their own income.
A loan goes to a group of co-signers, typically a ‘village mother’s group’ (The foundation requires that our borrowers be mothers or caregivers of small children – at least one child must be age 10 or under), with the village chairman or the school principal becoming a trustee of the group.
Although each woman forms her own business, they repay loans as a group, at meetings held approximately every two weeks. During the loan term, the women receive services including literacy training, small business counseling and other support to ensure their success.
The loan term is typically short: a year with Gorkha Foundation and typically with other microcredit organizations; and the interest rate is 3.5 % rather than those higher rates demanded by unscrupulous personal moneylenders, who can charge as much as 30%.
After paying off their initial loans, the groups often pool savings, making loans themselves to members who expand their businesses or buy a home. Gorkha Foundation then ‘recycles’ repayments, including interest, to form new groups of borrowers.
Microcredit enjoys a huge ripple effect. Not only do the loans break the cycle of poverty in households and villages, but according to the World Bank and other sources, the investments that women micro-entrepreneurs make for their families later spark sweeping changes in the community. This includes bigger incomes — 50% higher than in other villages — and improvements to literacy rates, nutritional health, school enrollment and contraceptive use, to name but a few.