Microlending…Enabling Global Entrepreneurship

Microlending…Enabling Global Entrepreneurship

Recent economic times have spurred uncertain thoughts and reactions around terms like “lending” or “investments.”  However, there is an emerging loan market that is working toward making a positive, significant impact on the lives of the impoverished globally.  The market that I am referring to is the “microlending” market.  Recent reports have estimated that there are more than 30 million microloans worldwide and at a growing rate of 30-40% per year.

So, why are so many individuals participating in microlending…

It has been estimated in developing countries that 50% or more of individuals are self-employed.  However, there is a substantial disparity between the number of self-employed individuals and those who have access to bank loans.  This lack of access to proper funding creates major barriers for micro-business owners in developing nations.  Therefore, there is a great need to help self-employed individuals establish and maintain sustainable businesses.

Microlending initiatives are developed to help bridge this gap and provide impoverished individuals access to business loans that they would otherwise not have access to. Ultimately, these loans can serve as an impactful way to help empower individuals, create jobs, and generate new economic cycles for markets in need.

Additional benefits to microlending include:

  • Small loans can make a significant difference in helping impoverished individuals launch entrepreneurial businesses (microloans are typically less than $1,000 in developing markets)
  • Many microcredit programs report repayment rates of between 95 and 100%

It is essential to recognize that not all microlending programs are the same.  Therefore, it is recommended to research how loan recipients are selected and monitored and how repayment rates are established.  It is also important to understand whether loans are dispersed to individuals (typically called “peer to peer”) or projects (“peer to project”).  The following organizations and sites provide useful information and insight on microlending.


This is the first in a series of posts on microlending.  Future posts will include profiles of microlending initiatives, success stories and creative ways to get involved.

Courtney Zegarski is an experienced research and communications professional with a passion for corporate social responsibility and social entrepreneurship. Courtney holds a B.A. in Political Science from Washington University in St. Louis and a M.B.A in Leadership & Business Ethics from DePaul, and writes extensively for the Social Endeavors Blog.