Monday, November 3, 2008

Mena Abdulaziz in Afghanistan

While overcoming poverty is difficult under any circumstances, overcoming poverty in a war zone is even harder. The economic structures (and therefore, opportunities for economic progress) are severely limited, if not completely destroyed, in countries at war. Micro-loans are critical to providing opportunities for economic livelihood in such situations. Providing a loan for Mena Abdulaziz will not only allow her to support her family by expanding her husband’s business, but it will provide her a greater ability to express artistic ability through pottery.

Afghanistan has experienced international and civil wars resulting in the destruction and creation of various governments over the past three decades. This has undoubtedly hindered its economic development, as the state has an unemployment rate of 40% and per capita GDP of $1,000 (CIA World Factbook, 2008). Providing a loan to Mena will allow her and her husband to improve their standard of living, along with that of their three children. Although any investment is a risk, Mena has a good track record and you can expect to be paid back. Her first loan provided funds to start her husband's store and improve her pottery business. This loan will allow her expand her pottery business even more and improve the stock in her husband's store. While financing retail businesses are relatively common, it is less often that you have the chance to support the spread of artwork. Life in a war-ravaged country can be difficult and discouraging and work that displays beauty and creativity amidst the rubble of war should be encouraged. While one may not think that something as simple as a handmade and decorated bowl can have an effect on others, a small work of art may provide a little encouragement in an otherwise chaotic life. Supporting a loan to Mena and her family will allow them to further their economic progress while increasing the number of people who can enjoy Mena’s creativity through pottery.

Lindsay Roberts
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