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TIAW renews partnership with IHG
In its second year, IHG will continue to focus its support primarily on TIAW's microenterprise development program, which aims to help alleviate poverty and empower women to achieve financial independence by offering them access to business loans through village-based banks. Village banks extend small loans, often less than $100, and other financial services such as savings to very poor women for self-employment projects that generate income.
In early 2007, IHG and TIAW financed two village banks in Mexico, using funding donated primarily by a group of IHG's female executives. The first bank, located in the Oaxaca region, this year extended business loans to 14 impoverished women. The second village bank currently has 12 borrowers and is located in the Puebla region. With loans ranging from $45 to $458 USD, the women in these towns now have access to the working capital they need to start or expand businesses that allow them to care for themselves and their families.
"For a lot of us here in North America, our own mothers came of age at a time when their roles in society were pretty much defined and limited by their gender," Gordon said. "This was stifling here, but much worse conditions still exist in many parts of the world. Women who don't have economic power can be subject to things like arranged marriages, forced prostitution, and child sex trafficking. We can do something about that with these micro loans."
TIAW was the first professional women's organization to adopt a comprehensive strategy supporting microenterprise development around the world. IHG plans to fund additional village banks with TIAW in 2008.
"The thing I like about TIAW's program is that we can directly sponsor a specific village bank, get on-going reports on loan recipients, and actually visit the village where the loans are being made and meet some of the recipients," Gordon said.
Innovative village banks and other collateral-free programs have consistently experienced repayment rates of more than 98 percent, far above the average repayment rates experienced by most commercial lending institutions.
"Because collateral is a difficult requirement for a population largely denied property rights, traditional lending sources have been unavailable to impoverished women in many developing countries," said Patricia Foley Hinnen, chair of TIAW's microenterprise program. "Access to market-based loans has dramatically improved economic opportunities for women engaged in micro-enterprises around the world. Thanks to funding from companies like IHG, women now have an alternative to unofficial moneylenders who charge usurious interest rates. The need is great. Official microfinance organizations are currently only reaching 5 percent to 8 percent of the women who need a loan."
Since beginning its microenterprise program in 2000, TIAW has funded over 60 village banks in some of the world's poorest countries, including Malawi, Uganda, Peru, Afghanistan and the Philippines.
Each year TIAW holds international events, along with its annual Global Forum in North America to bring together women from around the world to connect, discuss important issues and recognize women who have truly made a difference. As always, our mission is to offer thought-provoking and intellectually stimulating events that will edify, inspire and empower a broad base of influential domestic and international participants.
The company pioneered the travel industry's first collaborative response to environmental issues as founder of the International Hotels and Environment Initiative (IHEI). The IHEI formed the foundations of the Tourism Partnership launched by the International Business Leaders Forum in 2004, of which IHG is still a member today. The environment and local communities remain at the heart of IHG's global corporate responsibility focus. For more information about IHG visit www.ihg.com.
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