Founding a Movement a New Book about the First Global Women’s Microfinance Network

The Full Inside Story of the Founding of Women’s World Banking by its Founding President Michaela Walsh
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Oct. 23, 2012 - PRLog -- While microfinance is increasingly discussed these days as offering solutions to fighting poverty especially in the developing world, it’s not widely known that microfinance is far from a new trend. Co-founder and founding president of Women’s World Banking (“WWB”), Michaela Walsh, just released her new book, Founding a Movement, Women’s World Banking 1975-1990 (Cosimo Books, 2012), which travels back in time and recounts in a fascinating narrative the founding of the world’s first women’s microfinance network.

It all started in 1975, when a visionary group of women met in Mexico City at the first United Nations World Conference on Women. With perseverance, confidence and risk-taking, they created a women’s microfinance network and propelled it forward to become a leading provider of microfinance services around the world. In this personal account, Michaela Walsh, a former pioneer manager at Merrill Lynch, activist and scholar, recounts her extraordinary path as the founding president of WWB. In her own words:

“..(this book)….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.”

This book illuminates the birth of a culture of trust — from Kenya to Colombia, from Brazil to the Philippines — where women entrepreneurs could learn from and teach each other to gain control over their economic destinies. Currently, WWB, based in New York, serves as an umbrella organization to a network of 39 financial organizations from 27 countries that provide small loans, from $100 and up, to borrowers to start their businesses: with a portfolio of $7 billion and $3.5 billion in savings, 26 million clients are served by the WWB network, 80% of whom are women.

Leading figures in public affairs, finance, and international development have endorsed Michaela Walsh’s work and expressed their appreciation for the achievements of WWB:

"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 transforming movement."

- The Honorable Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia and Nobel Laureate

“The incredible story of the birth of WWB was not typical of starting an non-governmental organization.  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 related to each other…”

- John Hammock, associate professor Tufts University and co-founder of Accion

"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


MICHAELA WALSH is an activist, scholar, mentor, educator, and author. She has been a pioneer female manager for Merrill Lynch, the first female partner at Boettcher, and the founding president of Women’s World Banking. She has taught at Manhattanville College, served on the Boards of several institutions, and was chairperson of the 59th United Nations DPI/NGO Conference in 2006. She has received numerous awards, including an honor in 2012 from Women’s Funding Network for changing the face of philanthropy.

FOUNDING A MOVEMENT: Women’s World Banking 1975-1990

Michaela Walsh, with Shamina De Gonzaga and Lilia C. Clemente

Cosimo Books, September 2012


ISBN 978-1-61640-717-9

Paperback, 370 pages, $24.99 / £19.99


WOMEN’S WORLD BANKING, with office in New York, is the only microfinance network with an explicit focus on women. Its mission is to expand the economic assets, participation and power of low-income women and their households by helping them access financial services, knowledge and markets. Visit:


COSIMO BOOKS publishes titles by experts, academics, journalists, and visionaries on topics including Public Affairs, Socially Responsible Business and Personal Development. Cosimo Books, based in New York, is an imprint of Cosimo, Inc., a specialty publisher of books and publications that inspire, inform and engage readers. Cosimo’s mission is to create a smart and sustainable society by connecting people with valuable ideas.

Always available at online bookstores. Visit

Source:Cosimo, Inc.
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