2000 delegates from more than 100 countries have gathered in the Canadian city of Halifax for a global summit on microcredit. Queen Sophia of Spain was present, wearing a shawl bought from a collective of women who have benefited from the scheme. Social entrepreneur Mohammed Yunus presided over the opening ceremony.
The professor of economics was last month awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for pioneering the system. Yunus founded the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh in 1976. It offers small loans, normally of less than 100 euros, to members of deprived rural communities who would not normally have access to credit from a bank. Over the years Grameen has helped 6.6 million borrowers, 97 percent of whom are women. The idea has now spread to more than 40 countries worldwide.
Two fresh aims will be set at the summit. It is hoped by 2015 that 175 million of the world’s poorest families will be able to benefit from microcredit. It is also hoped that the income of 100 million families will increase to above 70 euro cents a day.