In the 1960s, a small group of Malian women cloth dyers reinvigorated the craft of hand-dyed cloth using a fabric called bazin. Now, thanks to microcredit programs introduced in the mid-1980s, bazin production has flourished into a lucrative enterprise dominated by women. Their artistic creativity has become a force for alleviating poverty and affirming identity in West Africa.
Bangladesh is one of the poorest nations on the planet: half of its population lives on less than a dollar a day. But in the tiny semi-rural village of Dholla, microfinance loans from the Grameen Bank are empowering locals to create thriving small businesses.
In the past, investing in African enterprises was too complicated a task for anyone except banks or large companies. But now, thanks to websites such as MYC4, just about anyone can use their capital to fund small businesses and individual entrepreneurs in developing nations -- all from the comfort of their own home.
Small loans are enabling Colombians to own their own businesses.
On forgotten mountains in the outskirts of Bogota, Colombia, people live in small shacks that they often build in days. Most of them unwittingly build on small plots of stolen land. Non-profit organization Un Techo Para Mi Pais (A Roof for My Country) offers microcredits to those with promising business ideas.
Street vendors in Liberia are organizing themselves to gain rights and improve their working conditions. Helped by groups such as Realizing Rights, these informal workers are fighting hard for greater security and prosperity.
A financial program aimed at Fijian women who want to start small businesses is helping to generate income, create jobs, and, ultimately, increasen their self-sufficiency.
J.S Parthibhan is a bank manager with a difference: he's interested in people, not numbers. Through micro loans, he's helping villagers in rural areas develop a sense of entrepreneurship and self-respect.
Farmers in Kenya are reaping better harvests with the help of fertilizer, made available through a loan system. The farmers now believe they will become economically independent and able to properly care for their children.
In the middle of a global recession, Kenya's Equity Bank is booming. Microloans as small as $10 are helping the country's budding business people. Can Wall Street learn a lesson from these rural entrepreneurs?
Coffee has become a powerful economic driver for Rwanda, but how have the country's farmers managed to transform their crop into a premium product that can command top prices? The answer lies in washing stations and bicycles.