Press Releases

19 November 2004

Microcredit Extends Same Rights to Poor as Are Available to Everyone Else, Says Secretary-General in Message to Launch Ceremony for International Year

NEW YORK, 18 November (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s video message on the launch of the International Year of Microcredit today, 18 November:

Microfinance has proved its value, in many countries, as a weapon against poverty and hunger.  It really can change peoples’ lives for the better -- especially the lives of those who need it most.

A small loan, a savings account, an affordable way to send a pay cheque home can make all the difference to a poor or low-income family.  With access to microfinance, they can earn more, build up assets, and better protect themselves against unexpected setbacks and losses. They can move beyond day-to-day survival towards planning for the future. They can invest in better nutrition, housing, health, and education for their children.  In short, they can break the vicious circle of poverty.

If we are to reach the Millennium Development Goals, that is exactly the kind of progress we need to make.

Let us be clear:  microfinance is not charity.  It is a way to extend the same rights and services to low-income households that are available to everyone else. It is recognition that poor people are the solution, not the problem.  It is a way to build on their ideas, energy, and vision. It is a way to grow productive enterprises, and so allow communities to prosper.

Where businesses cannot develop, countries cannot flourish. Let us use this International Year of Microcredit to put millions of families on the path to prosperity.

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