Microcredit Documentary to Air Nationwide October 27 on Public Television

BYU will host special premiere

How much does it cost to start a small chicken farm in Kenya? How about beginning a handbag business in the Philippines or opening a small clothing shop in New York? “Small Fortunes: Microcredit and the Future of Poverty” is an hour-long documentary that discusses how micro-lending institutions are helping people escape poverty. The new film premieres nationwide on PBS October 27.

“Many people don’t understand how microcredit works,” says Todd Manwaring, director of the BYU Center for Economic Self-Reliance. “The documentary explains how microcredit is impacting people’s lives, who it’s helping and how.”

Directed by award-winning filmmakers Sterling Van Wagenen and Matt Whitaker, the documentary is a production of BYU Broadcasting in conjunction with the BYU Center for Economic Self-Reliance and Angel Partners.

Microcredit is the granting of small business loans, often less than $100, to people who start their own microenterprises. Many of these loans are given in underdeveloped countries where a little money can go a long way. Whether it’s starting a buffalo milk business, selling tortillas, or weaving cloth, most borrowers are able to pay back their loans while keeping enough profits to reinvest in their businesses, homes and children.

The United Nations declared 2005 the International Year of Microcredit. Today, there are an estimated 100 million women and men using the micro-lending services of more than 3,000 microfinance institutions. The documentary looks at how several of these institutions function. Contact your PBS station for local airtimes. To locate the station in your area, visit pbs.org/stationfinder.

A special Utah premiere of “Small Fortunes” will take place Thursday, October 27 on the BYU campus in room 251 of the Tanner Building at 7 p.m. A short Q&A session with a panel of microcredit experts and one of the film’s directors will follow the premiere. The panel will consist of Matt Whitaker, director; Warner Woodworth, BYU professor; and representatives from Visayas Enterprise Foundation/EMI, Yehu Bank and Unitus, three microcredit organizations that are featured in the documentary. A small reception will be in the Tanner Building atrium following the Q&A. The Utah premiere is sponsored by CESR and the Economic Self-Reliance Student Association.

The Marriott School is located at Brigham Young University, the largest privately owned, church-sponsored university in the United States. The school has nationally recognized programs in accounting, business management, public management, information systems, organizational behavior and entrepreneurship. The school’s mission is to prepare men and women of faith, character and professional ability for positions of leadership throughout the world. Approximately 3,000 students are enrolled in the Marriott School’s graduate and undergraduate programs.

Media Contact: Joseph Ogden (801) 422-8938 or 787-9989
Writer: Chad Little (801) 422-1512