This past week women worldwide -- and the amazing things they can do with even the smallest amounts of capital -- were in the news. And how....
When I switched on NPR at breakfast Friday morning, I heard word that Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus and his Grameen Bank had won the Nobel Peace Prize. Then, when I checked my email, a friend* had forwarded me an article about a Chinese businesswomen who had become richer than Oprah (could it be?) and is now, in fact, the richest person in China.
First, I'd been hearing bits here and there about the Grameen Bank and its founder for a while - but hadn't realized the micro-loan work they did was globally significant enough to catch the attention of the Nobel committee. Since it was founded in 1983, the bank has lent $5.72 billion to more than six million Bangladeshis - 97% of whom were women. According to an article in Friday's New York Times (reg. required):
Worldwide, microcredit financing is estimated to have helped some 17 million people.
''Yunus and Grameen Bank have shown that even the poorest of the poor can work to bring about their own development,'' the Nobel citation said.
Today the bank claims to have 6.6 million borrowers, 97 percent of whom are women, and provides services in more than 70,000 villages in Bangladesh. Its model of micro-financing has inspired similar efforts around the world.
The success has allowed Grameen Bank to expand its credit to include housing loans, financing for irrigation and fisheries as well as traditional savings accounts.
And, then there's the article in Xinhua Online about how: "Zhang Yin, 49-year-old founder and chairwoman of Guangdong-based Nine Dragons Paper Industries Co., Ltd., has amassed a fortune of 27 billion yuan (3.375 billion U.S. dollars)." She now tops the list of the richest people in China - and is the first woman ever to do so.
So - if for some reason, you are still a bit slow on the draw and just now starting to commit to the U.S. women's market, you might want to rally the troops and get ON it a bit! We already know that women are the spenders driving our (U.S.) economy, and they have been for some time. But given today's news, and all the other incredible stories about global women that you can find in publications like WorldPulse Magazine,** for one, there's no time to lose in learning how to serve other cultures as well.
Full disclosure: I am informally advising the two companies mentioned below.
*Thanks to Danny Kessler at Angels with Attitude (a women's self-defense training business) for the article link about the Chinese businesswoman.
**WorldPulse is a start-up media venture that is doing huge things to help women and children transform the world.
Take the first step (it's free).
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