WASHINGTON, D.C., April 4, 2006- Honduran President José Manuel Zelaya Rosales urged “all countries of the world to support” the Global Microcredit Summit 2006 when he announced that he will attend the international meeting to be held November 12-15 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. More than 2,000 delegates from 100 countries are expected to join him in Halifax. “Support for microfinance,” Zelaya said, “is fundamental to the strengthening of democracy and governability. It is very important to generating employment, expanding productivity and competitiveness, and to reducing poverty.”

Launched in 1997 with a goal of reaching 100 million of the world’s poorest families with microcredit by the end of 2005, the Microcredit Summit Campaign will convene in Halifax to review progress toward that goal and re-launch the Campaign with two new goals for 2015: 1) reaching 175 million of the world’s poorest families with microcredit and 2) helping 100 million of the world’s poorest families move above the $1 a day threshold.

In his inaugural address on January 27, 2006, Zelaya said, “today, we start governing Honduras so that the poor have options.” Microcredit programs, which give the poor, especially women, small loans to help them start or expand tiny businesses, offer people help in moving out of poverty with dignity.

Microloans can be as low as $30 and the institutions that provide them try to avoid traditional barriers to borrowing such as lack of collateral and the illiteracy of potential clients. The borrowers form groups to help ensure high repayment success and are encouraged to start small savings accounts.

Women, especially the poorest women, comprise the majority of loan recipients. “Empowering women is critical to reducing world poverty,” said Microcredit Summit Campaign Director Sam Daley-Harris. “Some 29,000 children die each day from largely preventable malnutrition and disease-the equivalent of a major tsunami every 10 days-and more than 1 billion people live on less than US$1 a day.”

The Campaign’s latest report found that 92 million families around the world had a microloan in 2004, the majority living on less than US$1 day when they started with the program. The final number of clients reached at the end of 2005 will be released at the Global Microcredit Summit in Halifax, where President Zelaya and other Heads of State and Government will join the delegates in launching phase two of the Campaign’s fight against global poverty.

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