Tuesday, September 16, 2003
FINCA Board of Directors

Queen Rania accepts invitation to join FINCA Board of Directors

(Office of Her Majesty, Press Department - Washington, D.C.) FINCA International welcomes Queen Rania to its Board of Directors

FINCA International, the Foundation for International Community Assistance, announced in Washington on Monday that Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah has accepted an invitation to join its Board of Directors, formalizing a relationship of support and advocacy that began in 2000.

FINCA Executive Director Rupert Scofield welcomed Her Majesty to the Board during an event bringing together some of Washington, DC's most prominent women activists with Queen Rania, currently on a five-day visit to the US with His Majesty King Abdullah.

In her acceptance of the invitation, Queen Rania reaffirmed her belief in FINCA's vision that microfinance organizations provide a tangible means of giving large numbers of the world's poorest a real stake in their societies.

She stressed that sustainable development was a cornerstone through which values like democracy and freedom can create stable societies in which opportunities to prosper are available for all.

Queen Rania underlined that microfinance has a unique power to rebuild communities destroyed by violence and disaster because it is renewable capital as loans repaid are cycled back into communities, to generate more jobs, more reconstruction, more hope.

The discussion focused on how women's economic empowerment can serve as a powerful tool in fostering stability in the Middle East.

Queen Rania also emphasized the importance of focusing on education as a powerful tool that contributes to closing the “gap that separates the world's people into those who have a future, and those who do not."

Participants concurred that Queen Rania embodied and represented the hopes of women who play a role in shaping their future and those of their societies.

Her Majesty has been an active supporter of microlending in Jordan, having started a community empowerment program aimed at enhancing the economic and social well-being of women in underprivileged communities by establishing sustainable community-operated projects as part of the Jordan River Foundation.

Scofield underlined Queen Rania's dedication to the plight of poor women in developing countries, and recalled how Her Majesty's compassion was exhibited during a visit to one of FINCA's Village Banking programs in a war-torn village in Kosovo.

Shortly after the conflict ended, Her Majesty became part of a FINCA working group designed to establish Village Banking groups in Kosovo and accepted FINCA's invitation to meet with some of the program's first clients.

 "On that rainswept afternoon in the small town of Malishevo, I saw the deep compassion and sympathy Her Majesty had for a people who had suffered unimaginable tragedy," Scofield recalled.

"She did not have to make that trip or accept that invitation, and I'm not sure how many world leaders would have had the courage to do so. "But it was this experience that convinced me that Her Majesty's interest and commitment to our mission goes beyond a mere intellectual appreciation for the plight of the economically disadvantaged. She truly believes in the mission of FINCA and microfinance, and is willing to work on behalf of our clients to raise the issue to an internationally visible level."

Queen Rania's association with FINCA International has been steadfast since her first visit to FINCA's DC headquarters in 2000.

Among the advocacy efforts Queen Rania has engaged in are testifying before the House Foreign Relations Committee to encourage passage of the Micro Enterprise for Self-Reliance Act of 2001, launching the Global Endowment for the Poor, and announcing the start-up of FINCA's Afghanistan program in 2002, whose first loans will be distributed this winter.

Since 1984, FINCA's Village Banking methodology has proven successful in countries around the world providing small loans, a savings program, and technical support for the self-employed poor, helping them to work their own way out of poverty.

In 2003, FINCA has already disbursed more than $142 million in loans averaging $250, with an on-time repayment rate of more than 97%.

Today FINCA's 22 programs in 21 countries demonstrate that not only does microfinance work in terms of how it impacts people's lives, it is also a sustainable, scaleable business model.

Because capital is lent, not given, a loan repaid makes another loan for a new family. Microfinance does not pour money down a drain - it fills an ever-expanding pool of renewable resources.

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