Spotlight on Public Events: Microfinance as a Tool for Community Development

EWC Changing Faces Women’s Leadership Program participant Kalpana Sankar, CEO of Hand in Hand in Tamil Nadu (India), speaking on microfinance initiatives.


Kathleen Stack, Vice President of Freedom from Hunger and a participant in EWC’s 2009 Changing Faces Women’s Leadership Program, speaking on her NGO’s microfinance projects.



“To truly empower women there should be more to microfinance than just lending money,” emphasized Kalpana Sankar, CEO of Hand in Hand in Tamil Nadu, at an EWC public program in September. “You have to provide literacy, address enterprise, financial services and linkage to markets.”

Sankar spoke of the importance of self-help support groups, which when combined with microfinance and education and training workshops, have mobilized more than 400,000 poor and illiterate women in southern India through Hand in Hand’s programs.  Started in 1988 with a handful of employees, the NGO now is a global organization with 3,000 employees, 30,000 volunteers, and pilot programs in South Africa, Afghanistan, and Brazil.

Co-presenter Kathleen Stack, Freedom from Hunger’s Vice President for program development, discussed how her organization develops programs and partnerships that provide financial, educational, and health protection services to fight chronic hunger and poverty in 16 countries. Based in California, Freedom from Hunger’s programs empower more than 1.4 million women through training in capacity building and skills development, so they can provide sustainable livelihoods for their families.

Stack and Sankar were among 11 participants in this year’s EWC Changing Faces Women’s Leadership Program, a seminar that brings together women from Asia, the Pacific, and the United States to enhance leadership abilities and address issues of concern related to a theme.  This year’s theme focused on how women as entrepreneurs can foster economic growth and strengthen and build communities.


Video:   Click here to watch the full presentation.