Oxfam America Programs
Community finance or "microfinance" institutions allow people who do not have access to credit the chance to borrow a small amount of money. Once the borrowers pay back the loan, they are able to increase the loan amount, giving them a chance to build small businesses or homes.
Oxfam takes a different approach to the traditional microfinance model, creating large numbers of savings and credit groups in the poorest regions of the world. Members of these groups can share their savings and make loans to each other with their own resources instead of taking out a loan from a bank, credit union, or microfinance institution.
In Oxfam's program, called Saving for Change, villagers come together to form groups of about 20 people that work like community banks; the members save money, make loans, and pay each other interest that grows the group fund.
Small loans from the groups can make a big difference in people's lives. Members use their loans to start or grow small businesses, purchase seeds, buy medical supplies for sick family members, or pay school fees for their children.
Disasters & Conflicts
As a humanitarian organization, our mission is to do whatever we can to reduce suffering and save lives during emergencies—whether they are caused by conflict or by natural events such as earthquakes, floods, or drought. To move fast and efficiently, we partner with local groups who know the people, the land, and the political context of the region in which the disaster strikes. Our network of partners stretches around the world.
Currently, Oxfam and our partners are responding to the emergency in Jordan and Lebanon. Two years after the uprising of 2011, armed conflict still rages in Syria, and the numbers of those severely affected are boggling. Nearly seven million people inside Syria are in need of humanitarian assistance, and more than one million have taken refuge in neighboring Egypt, Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan. Thousands are still flowing across the borders each day; more than half of them are children. Over the course of twelve months, Oxfam aims to assist 650,000 people affected by the refugee crisis. Meanwhile, we are calling on the US government and the international community to intensify diplomatic efforts to achieve a ceasefire, to ensure humanitarian access to those in need, and to commit to an embargo on arms transfers to all sides in this conflict.
Private Sector Engagement
The private sector affects poor people and public policies in several ways. The reach of companies has grown significantly as countries have opened their doors to greater trade and investment and privatized certain basic services. The resulting imbalance has left the private sector with outsized influence coupled with rising demands and expectations from the public. This dynamic means there is new urgency and more opportunities to engage private sector actors to use their power to address poverty.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
Mondelēz International agrees to address women’s inequality in chocolate production
On April 23, 2013, the biggest chocolate maker in the world, Mondelēz International, agreed to take steps to address inequality facing women in their cocoa supply chains following pressure from consumers as part of the international relief and development organization Oxfam America’s Behind the Brands
campaign. This campaign also targeted Mars and Nestle—together, these three companies control 40 percent of the global chocolate market.
“The impact of Mondelēz International, Mars and Nestlé’s promises, if kept, will reverberate across cocoa supply chains,” said Judy Beals, campaign manager for Oxfam’s Behind the Brands Campaign. “Empowering women cocoa farmers has the potential to improve the lives of millions of people, some of whom are earning less than $2 a day.”
The Behind the Brands campaign will continue to highlight areas where companies are not living up to their responsibilities to communities. New actions launch later in 2013.
Oxfam America’s Behind the Brands
campaign illustrates Oxfam’s commitment and responsibility to hold the powerful accountable.