Microfinance: The Legacy of Obama’s Mother

Humanitarians across the world support microfinance as a means to escape the oppression of poverty. Microfinance is not a recent phenomenon: I recently read a great piece in the Independent Online talking about President Obama’s mother, Ann Dunham, and how she backed microfinance during her career as a social anthropologist, living and working in Indonesia in the 1960s.

Race4Change microcredit blogger, Matt Smolsky, has been reading about Stanley Ann. Matt takes up the story:

Giving People Hope: Lessons Obama Learned from His Mother

by Matt Smolsky

We know a lot about Barack Obama’s father, his Kenyan ancestry and how he impacted the President’s life. Obama himself set on a quest to understand a father he barely knew. In doing so, he introduced us to the African side of his background.

Less is known about his mother, Stanley Ann Dunham. A new book on Dunham titled A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother, by Janny Scott, reveals new insight into the woman who had the biggest impact on Obama’s life and world-view.

Early Work in Microfinance

Scott, a New York Times reporter, reveals Dunham’s early work in microfinance. Dunham spent a majority of her working life in Indonesia as an anthropologist specializing as a development officer in microfinance. In fact, she was part of the initial movement to set up the largest self-sustaining commercial microfinance/microcredit programs in the world. She spent many years helping the poor, especially women, get access to credit.

Dunham became so close to the people she was working to help, that she joked about being reincarnated as an Indonesian blacksmith. She discovered that in 1979, in 10 villages receiving loans, women working as hard as men, didn’t receive a penny from 129 loans made.

Legacy of Obama’s Mother

Dunham’s early work with microfinance gave people hope for the future. And a similar hope continues today through microfinance efforts in East Africa and around the world.

A Time Magazine article during the 2008 election described Obama as “his mother’s son … In his wide-open rhetoric about what can be instead of what was, you see a hinge of his mother. When he figures out how to move a crowd of thousands of people very different from himself, it has something to do with having a parent who gazed at different cultures the way other people study gems.”

President Obama knows the value of empowerment and its impact on the lives of people in poverty. In 2009 he announced the formation of the $100 million Microfinance Growth Fund.

Race4Change is proud to be a part of the microfinance movement. These revelations about Obama’s mother are truly exciting and enlightening. Join us in our fight against poverty by making a donation today.

About John Glynn

John Glynn is the owner of Ferdinand Porsche Magazine and resident Race4Change media expert & blogger. John owns five classic Porsche cars and knows the Porsche scene inside out. Check out his articles on the Ferdinand Porsche Blog at www.ferdinandmagazine.com.
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