A free nation does not guarantee opportunity. Though one may be legally free to follow their passions and pursue their dreams, many simply do not have the resources, infrastructure or capital to move forward. It is common for the poor in developing nations to spend much of their day gathering firewood and fresh water, leaving little time to advance their fortunes. Those of us who have been born into well-established western civilizations are privileged. Our ancestors, governments and economies have paved the way for us to excel if we choose to do so. But on unpaved roads, where the poorest of the poor walk, there is no such inheritance. In the short-term, donations or food, medicines and supplies improve the lives of those less fortunate. Volunteerism lends a tangible hand and often assuages a pressing need. Sadly these well-worn, well-intentioned practices do little to ensure a self-sustaining future.
Microfinance may be the answer. Put simply, it is the facilitation of small business loans to poor entrepreneurial men and women who desire to build a better life. With loans of a few hundred dollars they become artisans, open bakeries, schools and shops. Their success flows into the surrounding communities and villages. A single loan influences many. Thanks to these minute sums of money and those who deploy it, positive transformation exists. Microfinance is not charity. It is an auspicious way to invest in our fellow man.