HM Queen Sofia of Spain, President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras, the Vice Presidents of Uruguay and the Philippines, HRM Prince Talal Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia and the First Lady of Panama will join top microfinance leaders like Muhammad Yunus of the Grameen Bank, Fazle Abed of BRAC, and Ela Bhatt of SEWA at the Global Microcredit Summit to be held November 12-15, 2006 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. More than 2,000 delegates from 100 countries are expected to join them.

Launched in 1997 with a goal of reaching 100 million of the world’s poorest families with microloans by the end of 2005, the Microcredit Summit Campaign will convene in Halifax to review its progress towards that goal and to launch Phase II of the Campaign with two new goals for 2015: 1) reaching 175 million of the world’s poorest families with microcredit and 2) ensuring 100 million of the world’s poorest families move above the $1 a day threshold.

Microcredit programs, which give the poor, especially women, small loans to help them start or expand tiny businesses, bring people the opportunity to move out of poverty with dignity. The Global Summit will be critical to forwarding efforts to improve the lives of the poorest through microcredit.

Institutions that provide microloans, which can be as low as $30, try to avoid traditional barriers to borrowing such as lack of collateral and make provisions for the illiteracy of potential clients. The borrowers often form groups to help
ensure high repayment success and are encouraged to start small savings accounts.

These microloans have helped tens of million of women like Ana Ruiz of Nicaragua. Before receiving a U.S. $100 microloan to expand her tortilla business, Ana lived in a scrap wood shack with her eightchildren. She had no furniture except for her worktable and her children never had shoes or attended school. After her second loan she was able to send her four oldest to school and buy eight plastic chairs so the children wouldn’t have to sit in the dirt. Before her microloan, her children were malnourished. “The little ones run around now,” she says. “They go to sleep early because they are tired from playing, not because they are weak.”

Women, especially the poorest women, comprise the majority of loan recipients. “Empowering women is critical to reducing world poverty,” said Microcredit Summit Campaign Director Sam Daley-Harris. “Some 29,000 children die each day from largely preventable malnutrition and diseasethe equivalent of a major tsunami every 10 days—and more than 1 billion people live on less than US$1 a day.”

The Campaign’s latest report found that 92 million families around the world had received a microloan in 2004, the majority living on less than US$1 a day when they started with the program. The final number of clients reached in 2005 will be released on November 1st and will highlight the progress made toward reaching the 100 million goal.

The Microcredit Summit Campaign is a project of RESULTS Educational Fund, a Washington, D.C.-based non-governmental organization.