We cannot agree more with the vice president that microfinance is essential in poverty alleviation. This is empirical in that microfinance institutions are financial services meant to empower people especially women.
Their primary aim is to serve as finance institutions that give loans to their clients to set up small business enterprises that will help them sustain a good living. Suffice to say, microfinance brings the power of credit to the grassroots by way of loans to the poor, without requirement of collateral or previous credit record. Experience shows that microfinance can help the poor to increase income, build viable businesses, and reduce their vulnerability to external shocks. It can also be a powerful instrument for self-empowerment by enabling the poor, especially women, to become economic agents of change.
Poverty is multi-dimensional, and by providing access to financial services, microfinance plays an important role in the fight against the many aspects of poverty. Access to credit allows poor people to take advantage of economic opportunities - for their homes, their domestic environments and their communities. For instance, income generation from a business helps not only the business activity expand but also contributes to household income and its attendant benefits on food security, children's education, among others. Moreover, for women who, in many instances, are secluded from public space, transacting with formal institutions can also build confidence and empowerment.
As our stakeholders converge to look into the business of microfinance, we hope that they will look into the social dimension of the business and as well expand their scopes of operation so that every Gambian can have a chance to break away from the cycle of poverty.