Weathering the Storm on Our Local Level
-Recap written by Sundance Banks
How has the economic crisis affected microfinance providers in the Bay Area?
Camille Busette of EARN, Julie Castro Abrams of Women’s Initiative for Self Employment, and Evelyn Huang of Opportunity Fund answered this question and many others at the February 24th meeting of the Silicon Valley Microfinance Network.
Camille Busette started off the evening by describing EARN’s programs that match the savings of low-wage workers, and how the economic downturn might affect such products. “Even in this economy, you would be unwise to bet against EARN savers,” Camille said, noting that the downturn has tended to focus people on the need for financial planning and savings.
Next, Julie Castro Abrams of Women’s Initiative for Self Employment discussed why micro-enterprises would likely play a large role in helping revitalize the economy, just as micro-enterprises helped bring the U.S. economy out of the last recession. Julie said that demand for programs was high, noting that the Women’s Initiative maxed out its lending portfolio last year and currently had a waiting list for many of its classes.
The evening’s last speaker was Evelyn Huang of Opportunity Fund, who expressed optimism despite the funding challenges. “The good news is that many individuals and foundations are recognizing that this is a difficult time for us, and they are re-uping and doing their best to help,” she said.
The three speakers’ presentations: