Vietnam - Hillary Rodham Clinton visited a tiny, dusty village
on the outskirts of Hanoi where small doses of credit are
helping women entrepreneurs alleviate rural poverty. "For
many years, I've believed in the power of small loans. You
have once again proved what can be done by women, with some
small help and hard work," she told a town meeting of
women. Mrs. Clinton, who is with President Clinton on his
historic trip to Vietnam, broke away Friday morning to visit
one of her pet projects - a "microcredit" lending
program similar to operations she's visited in twenty other
funded by aid agency Oxfam America, The Affectionate Fund*
is modeled after the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, which gives
loans to poor people who are seen as credit risks by mainstream
banks. Since it began in Vietnam in 1992, loans of 300,000
to 8 million dong ($21 to $570) have been given to about 11,000
women in five provinces, said director emeritus Do Thi Tan.
of villagers lined the streets watching the motorcade pass.
Enthusiastic clapping again broke out as Mrs. Clinton made
her way into the simple, wooden meeting hall of the program's
members. The small room was packed with rows of women dressed
in matching pink and aqua shirts who began the meeting chanting
and singing songs about the program. "Together we go
to fight against hunger and poverty. Together we stand side
by side to try to make our country rich. ... friends, advance,"
also heard reports about how the average monthly income among
the program participants has more than tripled, from 26,000
dong ($2) to 88,000 ($6), enabling women to educate their
children, buy appliances and renovate their houses.
know women are a very important part of Vietnam's future,
as you were a part of the past," Clinton told the group.
"I hope I'll hear many more success stories because you
are really making a better future for yourselves, your families,
your village and your country.''
Tran, The Associated Press.
known as 'Tau Yu Mai', a project funded by Grameen Trust since