Letter to the Editor: Foreign aid could do more for poor
February 3, 2009 · 4:56 PM
My Grandma Skov wanted to help poor people back in the ’20s when the men came to the kitchen door asking for food. One time she gave a man a dime and then watched to see what he did with it. He went into the saloon with Grandma after him, demanding to get her dime back. It wasn’t going to make him less poor, and she didn’t want her dime to be used foolishly.
In 1976, Muhammed Yunis of Bangladesh had a better idea. He loaned small amounts to poor people, especially women, who each had a plan. He loaned less than $1 each to 42 borrowers. They created a little business, built a better life for themselves and made good on their loan. It was a hand up, not a hand-out.
Today, microcredit is the single most successful tool to help the world’s poorest, and since 1976, 106 million of the world’s poorest have received a microloan. But there are still 980 million people living on less than $1 a day, and 1.4 billion living on less than $1.25 a day.
President Obama is building on my grandma’s philanthropy. He has promised to double U.S. foreign aid. But let’s insist that this aid will be accountable and that more of these funds will go to the world’s poorest. Let’s insist that Mr. Obama will use Mr. Unis’ Microcredit idea and give small loans to persons with a business plan. Let’s hope the funds will reach the poorest of the poor, the outcome will be monitored and measurable and reports will be public.
— Dorothy Hall-Bauer