We’re drawing to the end of Women’s History Month, a month that I think deserves some special reflection within the financial services industry. Financial services and products have historically been designed by and for men, presenting formidable barriers for women’s financial independence, even in 2021.
In honor of Women’s History Month, we thought we’d take a look at services and products that have helped to financially empower women as far back as 1870:
Personal loans: In 1973, Feminist Federal Credit Union was founded “for women, by women.” According to Michigan Credit Union League, “Unable to get loans in their own name, a group of amazing women pooled their resources so that women who were saving money could lend it to those who were in need. The first loans that were given were for a motorcycle, a kiln, college tuition and divorce attorney fees.”
Business loans: Micro-lending took the financial world by a storm after Mohammed Yunus launched the Grameen Bank Project in Bangladesh in 1976. The project started with a $27 loan to local women who wove bamboo stools, who were making just a few pennies off each stool because they couldn’t afford to pay for their materials up front. While microlending is certainly not limited to women, today 83% of Kiva microloans support female entrepreneurs. Some credit unions, like Lake Trust Credit Union, have designed their own microloan products.
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