There are new articles every day about the fight to close the wage gap, the strife experienced by women in less fortunate circumstances, and the psychological reasons that women are held back, both by men and by themselves. Everyone has an opinion on what exactly the problem is, but we noticed something: There aren’t very many concrete solutions offered. Sure, it’s helpful to change the language you use and highlight your peers’ achievements, but what can you do that has a measurable impact right now?
If you want to give a fellow woman a helping hand, there are few more rewarding and impactful actions you can take than offering a microloan to women in need. Many of these women live on less than $1.25 a day and lack access to basic financial services. What’s even more heart-wrenching? These heroic women use an average of 92 cents per dollar they earn to improve their children’s health and provide them with education. And why are we focusing on women only? Over two thirds of people who live in poverty globally are female. These women typically lack collateral, steady employment and a verifiable credit history. That is why these loans mean so much to them and can make such a big impact on their lives, a change they would have a hard time making otherwise. Far from a handout, these small acts of lending and generosity allow women all over the globe to start their very own businesses, which not only make them self-sufficient and able to provide for their families but also allow them to create jobs. Just look at Nadya Felah, a Jordanian woman who went from being a janitor to owning a business that employed eight full-time employees within two years and now supports seven local households.
It’s stories like these that shaped my decision to give back when I launched my own fashion company, Studio 15. We donate 5 percent of all our proceeds to female entrepreneurs in developing countries and to date have funded more than 25 businesses in Gulu, Uganda. We’re committed to helping these women start their own businesses and become self-sufficient. By doing so, we’re giving them the leverage they need to demand equality and fair treatment and to become powerful members of their communities.
Without microloans, these women lack collateral and are at a loss for steady employment options, as many jobs are off-limit to them. Without those all-important forms of employment, they’re unable to form credit, which is the final section of the vicious cycle of dependency. Studio 15 is committed to breaking the cycle and giving these women not only the freedom but also the dignity they deserve. We love hearing their stories and knowing that they’ve been able to start a business they can take pride in. We’ve partnered with Kleos Microfinance Group because of their mission to create prosperity through unity, hard work and generosity.
If you’d like to commit to helping lift up your fellow woman and give her the hand she needs to start her own business (and a new life), there are so many ways you can do it. Many people have the desire to volunteer and give back, but the task can often seem too large to tackle. That’s why we encourage you to start small and do the things that you can easily fit into your daily life. If you don’t have the time, you can simply donate to an organization like Kleos on a monthly basis, change your shopping habits to only support companies that have a social mission, or download GiveGab, an app that allows you to search for specific nonprofits or opportunities based on interests. There are endless ways you can make a big impact by starting with one small action.