28/05/2008 - 22:00

Fresh focus for Fini

28/05/2008 - 22:00

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MIRVAC executive director Adrian Fini will embark on a philanthropic trip to Africa in October to oversee a microfinance program he has underwritten, which teaches villages to become self-reliant.

Fresh focus for Fini

MIRVAC executive director Adrian Fini will embark on a philanthropic trip to Africa in October to oversee a microfinance program he has underwritten, which teaches villages to become self-reliant.

Mr Fini, chairman of the WA chapter of The Hunger Project's global board, has for 11 years been involved with helping impoverished regions in Africa initiate self-reliance and overcome starvation.

The Hunger Project's microfinance program, the African Woman Food Farmer Initiative, attempts to economically empower female food farmers by giving them training, credit and savings.

It works under an epicentre strategy, which mobilises clusters of villages to work together to meet their basic needs.

Income from the bank can be borrowed many times, or it is put into community decided initiatives. The villagers set their own interest rates and have total control of the financing.

"The great thing about the microfinance project is how it has empowered, in a sense, women and has looked at a long-term solution as a sustainable outcome in resolving the whole hunger issue," Mr Fini told WA Business News.

"My role really is to lift awareness ...getting the project to grow in WA, and to increase its funding base so it can assist more people over longer periods of time."

Hunger Project CEO Cathy Burke said having Mr Fini on board added credibility to project.

"Often with these hunger initiatives in Africa, people are sceptical about whether it's a legitimate cause or not," she said.

"Having Adrian as WA's advocate lets people know that this is a real initiative helping real people. With what he's been underwriting, we want to build on that leadership and advocacy in WA."

The project's senior manager, Amrote Abdella, who was visiting Perth this week from the program's global office in New York, said while women grew 80 per cent of food in Africa, their role in this process was vastly under-recognised. Since 2000, more than 95,000 microfinance loans totalling $US5.7 million have been granted.

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