What does it take to bring greater awareness of microfinance and how it changes lives, right here in the U.S.? Sometimes it takes the compassion and the generosity of someone like fashion designer Tory Burch (check out the rave reviews of her Fashion Week Show in the New York Times.) Her own story—beginning a business at home, achieving astounding success in five short years, becoming a mother (and learning that no role is more important)—coupled with her generous spirit compelled Tory to find an effective way to change the lives of women and children.
How fortunate are we that Tory found ACCION USA? Having formed the Tory Burch Foundation, Tory decided microfinance was just the right design for her philanthropic endeavors, and ACCION USA was just the right fit. Tory herself describes why she supports microfinance in the U.S. best: “I like microfinance in particular because it isn’t charity in the traditional sense. It’s about investing in people who might otherwise not have the chance to pursue their goals,” wrote Tory in her guest blog for Fortune Magazine
One should expect nothing less than spectacular from the very humble Tory Burch; last night, at an intimate dinner among Tory and her friends, no one was disappointed. There, she announced the Foundation and its partnership with ACCION USA, and gave me the opportunity to tell the stories of a few of our women clients that Tory and I visited. Many guests were surprised to hear that microfinance works in the US. In fact, ACCION USA along with ACCION Texas, New Mexico, San Diego, and Chicago has provided more the $250 million in loans to more than 13,000 businesses.
It was a breakthrough evening in many ways. So, where do we go from here? I hope for a long relationship that inspires others to join Tory in her great work, empowers women to accomplish their dreams, and brings greater awareness to the fact that a small amount of capital, education and tools can change the world.
Gina Harman serves as president and CEO at ACCION USA.