Founding a Movement

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Founding a Movement: Women’s World Banking 1975-1990, captures the impossible dream realized by a visionary group of women who met in Mexico City at the first United Nations World Conference on Women, and then, together, created the first global women’s financial network.

Drawing on more than 80 interviews, Michaela Walsh recounts her extraordinary path as Founding President of Women’s World Banking and brings alive the perseverance, confidence, and shared risk-taking that propelled the movement forward. This book illuminates the birth of a culture of trust—from Kenya to Colombia to the Philippines—where women entrepreneurs could learn from and teach each other, to gain control over their economic destinies.

In Walsh’s words, Founding a Movement “shines a light on the value that women contribute through work, and when they support one another, to become full participants in the economy through access to financial institutions and services, and everything that goes with that access.”

Praise for Founding a Movement

“The power of women teaching one another is profound. Women’s World Banking was one of the first movements to realize and trust this truth at a global scale. This is what made it a transform- ing movement.”

—The Honorable Ellen Johnson Sirleaf President of Liberia & Nobel Laureate

“Women’s access to finance, including microcredit, is crucial. Michaela Walsh and Women’s World Banking have broken new ground. Those who wish to follow
in their footsteps should read this story.”

—Jan Pronk Former Minister for International Development Cooperation of the Netherlands

“At last, the full inside story of the found- ing mothers of microfinance by one of its key leaders! Indispensable reading!”

—Hazel Henderson President of Ethical Markets Media and Creator of the Green Transition Scoreboard®

“The particular point I wanted to make is the importance of understanding the broader context of the time in which WWB was created and organized. Only in that way, I think, can it be appreci- ated how different WWB was. It also explains, at least in part, why it was so difficult to get it off the ground. WWB may be a far cry from that today, but
it is what it is only because of where it came from and how. That’s what or- ganizations need to understand about their history.”

—Russell Phillips Former Vice President, Rockefeller Brothers Fund

“I am glad you are writing about the earlier days of Women’s World Banking, when you were its architect and chief engineer… For us it is important that you write as it is our history, the global economic history. In those days when we started, the women’s presence in the economy was invisible—statistically and officially. Then WWB was bold enough
to reclaim women’s economic rights in the realm of formal banking. Thus we entered the mainstream, global and lo- cal. And we continued, performed, and will perform today, so we are the past and the future.”

—Ela Bhatt Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) and Women’s World Banking Trustee

“Who says that women have to adopt the ways of men to be successful? The incredible story of the birth of WWB was not typical of starting an NGO. Yes, it needed the determination and drive of the founder, but more important was her vision for how to change the way institutions and people worked and re- lated to each other it was not so much building the financial institution as it
was the caring, understanding, and sharing of the needs of other people, and taking ownership over that.”

—John Hammock Associate Professor, Tufts University and Co-Founder of Accion