“With great power comes great social responsibility”, a business-savvy superhero would say. Aiming to make the world a better place, Her Global Initiative has taken up the fight against poverty and inequality—with entrepreneurship as its weapon.
Unlike most entrepreneurial endeavors, social responsibility is at the heart of this initiative, one dedicated to providing impoverished women in developing countries access to low-interest micro-loans. By enabling women to start or maintain their own businesses, Her Global Initiative is empowering them to break the cycle of poverty and improve the quality of life of those around them.
“Equal opportunity should be provided to all humans regardless of disadvantage or gender. Many of the women that we work with were abused, threatened to be killed, starving, or unable to support their families. We saw potential in these women because we knew their worth,” said founder and CEO Christine Savino on the philosophy behind the organization.
Since its inception in 2014, the organization has touched the lives of 7,300 women in countries such as Ghana, Bangladesh and Uganda. Totaling over $530,000 invested in the future of women. The success of the initiative has allowed not only for loans but also for education investments in some of the communities they are involved in.
There is no lack of entrepreneurial spirit in developing countries. Ironically, poverty is the main obstacle to end poverty, and 70% of the 1.3 billion impoverished people in the world are female. “The average lending rate in Uganda, for example, stands at 23%. For most [women] this is not viable, so they decide either to give up on any hopes of entrepreneurism, or become victims of loan sharks who only land them in deeper poverty”, explained Christine.
Her Global Initiative is able to offer women much lower rates and better conditions to improve their businesses. Applicants only need to submit a loan application, 2 recommendation letters, a viable and specific business plan, and provide as little as $50 of their own capital. Once approved, they not only get a loan but also valuable financial mentorship to increase their chances of success.
However, lending money with low interests with hardly any financial guarantees poses a particular set of problems. “Offering microcredit loans means that there are not any legally binding debt obligations with the women, or collateral to minimize default risk”, continued Christine. To tackle this Her Global Initiative uses a group-lending method, also based on social responsibility: recipients are grouped with others from the same area and if one defaults, all of the group’s loans are halted. This approach has led to a 97% payback rate and ensured continued loan granting.
Currently an active member of diverse initiatives and a honors student at her alma mater, the University of Connecticut, Christine’s own upbringing was a major factor in her determination to see this project come to fruition: “Being raised in an impoverished orphanage in China and then an economically disadvantaged household in America, the importance of giving back to those in need has been deeply ingrained in me as I understand what it is like to walk in their shoes”, she shared.
A refreshing take on social responsibility for startups, Her Global Initiative is making strides toward making entrepreneurship a real possibility for thousands of women. Each opportunity is the start of a new life for a person, for once your dream comes true you can move on to dream bigger.