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The microfinance movement has had enormous success in reaching millions of impoverished people around the world. What is largely unknown is that for many of the 1.4 billion people living under $1.25 a day, microcredit is not a viable solution. The extreme poor are often not considered credit worthy, and their high levels of vulnerability mean that the risk associated with loans can in fact worsen their situation.

Those who live in the deepest levels of poverty suffer from a lack of economic opportunity, poor health, and are more vulnerable than most to shocks such as a natural disaster or a bad harvest. They also lack access to the services that could help because they live mostly in rural, isolated areas often unreached by government and development programs.

CEMREST have been committed to reaching this chronically underserved population, focusing in particular on women and people with disabilities who make up a majority of the world’s extreme poor. Traditionally, development programs have not differentiated between the poor, treating the poor as a group with similar characteristics and needs that require similar forms of assistance.

 It is now widely recognized that effective poverty alleviation efforts require more than a single-pronged approach, and must be adapted to the specific needs and capacities of people at different levels of poverty. Most importantly, the extreme poor must be targeted specifically in order to be properly reached.