FINCA International’s Ambassador of Hope Natalie Portman Urges Peers to Lead in the Fight against Global Poverty Addresses UCLA Anderson Students on the Power of Microfinance
Los Angeles, C.A, October 3, 2007--- Golden Globe Award-winning actress Natalie Portman today visited UCLA Anderson School of Management to urge students to use their knowledge of technology and new web tools, to support the campaign against global poverty and assume a leadership role for social action early in their lives. In her remarks, Portman highlighted the power of microfinance as a tool to help the world's lowest-income entrepreneurs create jobs, build assets and improve their standard of living.
Since graduating from Harvard in 2003, Portman has served as Ambassador of Hope for FINCA International, one of the world’s largest microfinance organizations and pioneer of the Village Banking method of bringing small business loans to the poor through community-run financial associations.
“My work with FINCA has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life,” said the 26-year old actress, who has helped establish Village Banks in Haiti and elsewhere. “I have seen that ending poverty is possible if we all act, even in small ways, together.”
Portman discussed and showed video diaries of her experiences this year in Mexico and Uganda, where she saw first-hand how Village Banking can transform families and communities. She also highlighted the power of new online social networking tools that allow students, many of whom spend hours each day on the community sites, to build support for organizations on their own.
“On a daily basis, our generation connects with technology that can also be used to alleviate poverty on a global scale,” said Portman. “Whether it’s getting involved with social action groups here on campus or raising awareness about FINCA and global poverty, each person can make a difference, often with just the click of a mouse.”
Since May, Portman has also served as co-chairperson with Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan for FINCA’s Village Banking “Call to Action” Campaign, an initiative to mobilize the people and resources needed to bring financial services to one million of the world’s lowest-income families. Village Banking is a unique and transparent method of microfinance that puts loans, as small as $50, in the hands of very poor families through community financial associations in which loans are guaranteed by the recipients themselves.
Portman was joined at the event by members of the UCLA Anderson Net Impact chapter and the UCLA Anderson Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER); participating in a discussion with UCLA Finance Professor, Dr. Bhagwan Chowdhry about microfinance, and the role young people can play in the fight against poverty.
In addition to her visit at UCLA, Natalie will join students at other colleges and universities across the nation in October:
FINCA is a leading international microfinance organization that provides financial services to the world's lowest-income entrepreneurs so they can create jobs, build assets and improve their standard of living. For more than twenty years, FINCA has been committed to breaking the cycle of poverty by providing community-based credit and savings opportunities. Currently, FINCA operates with a distinctive, integrated business model that accepts donations and investment dollars, an approach that leverages available capital and promotes greater transparency, sustainability and higher standards of business practices. This has allowed FINCA to achieve balanced financial and social performance unmatched in its industry while opening the path to socio-economic development for the lowest-income citizens of the world. Based in Washington DC with local operations in 20 countries on five continents serving more than 580,000 clients, FINCA's outreach is among the broadest and most comprehensive of today's microfinance networks. .