Monday, May 9, 2011

Remembering Mildred Robbins Leet

http://www.mildredrobbinsleet.org/ photo




By JONATHAN WOLFMAN

Take a moment today to celebrate a powerful, though widely unknown, life.

Most of you have heard of micro-grants, usually small sums by Western standards, money as low as $100 given most often to women in the Third World to start businesses and overcome poverty. What you may not know is that the first major micro-grant push began as early as 1979 by Mildred Robbins Leet who died this week at 88.

Born Mildred Elowsky, in Brooklyn, Leet founded the organisation, Trickle Up with $1,000. She named her fund as she did because while she was not convinced traditional country-to-country foreign aid was useless, she believed that it rarely trickled down to do the poorest women and their families enough lasting good.

Leet's legacy, reports Daniel Slotnick in the New York Times, has, to date, started over 200,000 small businesses such as doll-making and food-related companies. Today, Trickle Up operates in two African nations, in India, and two in Central America.

 Leet was a pioneer whose ingeniousness and commitment to the poor will serve her well in memory as well as, perhaps, millions of now hopeful women.

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