Huffpost Business
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Vivian Norris Headshot

Microcredit Summit in Kenya and Redemption

Posted: Updated:

There is not much to add to this fabulous email I received from Sam Daley-Harris of the Microcredit Summit, except to say that it is not only in the "developing world" (I really hate that term) that we need "Redemption" ... Wall Street could learn something from the poorest of the poor! Read on!

And for more background you can read my previous HuffPost piece: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/vivian-norris-de-montaigu/microfinance-as-a-solutio_b_217216.html

"....In my opening ceremony remarks I asked you to use this Summit to re-inspire yourselves. I asked you to re-commit to your most profound vision of microfinance for your institution, your country and the world.

Some people have come up to me and said that this Summit has been a life-changing experience for them. Others have said it was the best microfinance conference they have ever attended. I am sure there are others who might not have had such an extraordinary experience.

But the question I want to ask each of you is this one: Has this Summit caused you to change your thinking about what is possible? Was there anything you previously saw as impossible that you now see as possible? Do you see new possibilities with microfinance and agriculture or microfinance and the environment that you hadn't seen before? Do you see new possibilities with microfinance and health or microfinance and peace building that you hadn't seen before? Do you now see that it is possible to reach and empower beggars, thieves, and prostitutes and you had never seen that possibility before? If that kind of change has occurred for you then this Summit has been a resounding success.

Here is how I have changed as a result of this Summit. I now see that the spiritual dimension of microfinance, the redemptive dimension of microfinance as central to my vision for the field. The technical side is important, but only if it serves the transformational dimension.

In my opening ceremony speech I spoke about the gang member known as "the general" whose life had been transformed. I said that there are many vision for microfinance including this one: microfinance for redemption. The dictionary defines redemption as restoring one's honor and worth, setting one free.

It was at this Summit that I realized that there might be many visions for microfinance, but my vision for the field is redemption. Wednesday morning Ingrid Munro introduced us to Wilson Maina who was one of the most wanted criminals in Mathare Valley slum in Nairobi. Wilson said he would rather die from a policeman's bullet than die a slow, slow death from hunger and that was why he turned to crime.

But a member of Jamii Bora's staff saw a better life for Wilson and helped him see a better life for himself. Over a one year period Wilson saved $10, none of it from stealing, and then received a $20 loan. Wilson now has four businesses and has convinced hundreds of youth to get out of crime. How is that for a return on investment? He has convinced hundreds of youth to get out of crime. It might not be the return on investment some investors want, but it is the return on investment that communities need and the return on investment that the world needs.

The world's poor need this kind of redemption--redemption that restores people honor and worth. And here is another kind of transformation the world also needs--that we see people whom we had previously seen as the problem instead as the solution. The world needs us to change our thinking.

I hope that like me, this Summit has brought profound changes in thinking for you too--changes in thinking that will bring changes in action."

Sam Daley-Harris, Director
Microcredit Summit Campaign
750 First Street, NE, Suite 1040
Washington, DC 20002