Stephanie, a Rwandan widow and one of the entrepreneurs to benefit

A new portal has been launched that will help women entrepreneurs around the world to get microloans to help them grow their businesses.

Financial Independence Through Entrepreneurship, FITE, is a campaign designed exclusively to benefit women entrepreneurs and marks the first time that an open microlending platform has been created that is accessible to consumers online, offline and through retail channels.

It targets entrepreneurs who are too poor to qualify for traditional financing. FITE notes that 70% of people living in poverty are women.

While research has shown that women who are financially independent can be the greatest agents of change in their communities, only 2% of all international aid money goes to women. The joinFITE campaign has as its initial goal helping at least 25 000 women start or grow a business in the next two years.

Its portal, www.joinFITE.org, was launched this week by personal microlending site Kiva.org with support from skin care firm Dermalogica.

The campaign reports that it is off to a promising start: only days into the project, it has made 88 loans so far and 37 people have already paid a percentage of their loans back, while two loans have been completely repaid.

Loans that are repaid into the fund are then used to help fund the next entrepreneur.

The new site allows members of the public, companies and other organizations to donate money for use in the programme, and select which entrepreneur, region or industry the funding should go to.

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