Help seniors affected by the California wildfires! Donate now and your gift will be matched up to a total of $500,000.
by Cable Neuhaus, AARP The Magazine, September 10, 2007
To those who knew her as a child growing up in prosperous Newport Beach, California, it could not have come as a surprise that Nancy Barry would grow up to be president of Women's World Banking (WWB), a nonprofit organization that makes small loans ($10 to $10,000) to poor women worldwide. Barry could often be found tagging along with her uncle, a priest, who worked with César Chávez on the migrant farm workers' issues of the day. And once, when the family took a vacation to Acapulco, Mexico, Barry darted off to visit the public hospitals. "There was a very strong spirit within my family of social purpose," she says. Today, armed with degrees from Stanford and Harvard and a résumé topped by a decade-long stint as a senior executive at the World Bank, Barry remains firmly focused on those at the bottom. Big commercial banks "can really screw up" when it comes to lending tiny amounts of money, she says, which is where WWB's so-called microfinance loans come in. For the recipients, most of whom have no credit history and put up no collateral, the money is transformative. A woman in Kenya went from being a farmer to becoming one of her country's main exporters of roses. A Bosnian woman who was barely making enough to feed her family now owns three food shops. The impact of these loans (to some 18 million women around the world) was so great that the United Nations declared 2005 the Year of Microcredit. "What we do is about changing the way the world works," says Barry, 56. "It's revolutionary."
*The name of this award was originally the Impact Award. In 2008, the awards were renamed as the Inspire Awards.
Please leave your comment below.
You must be logged in to leave a comment.
Members save 25% on their first healthy meal delivery order of 99+.
Members save 15% all day, every day at participating locations.
AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.
You are leaving AARP.org and going to the website of our trusted provider. The provider’s terms, conditions and policies apply. Please return to AARP.org to learn more about other benefits.
Your email address is now confirmed.
Manage your email preferences and tell us which topics interest you so that we can prioritize the information you receive.
Explore all that AARP has to offer.
In the next 24 hours, you will receive an email to confirm your subscription to receive emails
related to AARP volunteering. Once you confirm that subscription, you will regularly
receive communications related to AARP volunteering. In the meantime, please feel free
to search for ways to make a difference in your community at