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Bangladeshi Woman Turns Her Life Around with Micro-Credit Program

Aired March 20, 2000 - 2:29 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: During his visit to Bangladesh, President Clinton pointed out the success of a program that is helping lift people out of poverty.

CNN White House correspondent Kelly Wallace met a Bangladeshi woman who is using the micro-credit program to turn her life around.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KELLY WALLACE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Her neighbors call her the "telephone lady." Anwara, a mother of four with no formal education, is looking for customers. She rents out her cell phone to villagers who want to make local and international calls.

This woman asks if Anwara will lower her bill. Anwara says no, with a smile, telling her neighbors this is a business.

Fourteen years ago, she and her husband barely had enough to eat, so Anwara got a loan from the Gremmain (ph) Bank in Bangladesh to buy a milking cow. Several loans later, Anwara was able to build up her home from a shack to this. And three years ago, when her husband died of cancer, the bank gave her $400 to buy a cell phone.

ANWARA BEGUM, LOCAL ENTREPRENEUR (through translator): You can easily understand, if I had not this business, I cannot send my children to the -- for education.

WALLACE: Her profits will help her send her daughter to law school and her son to study medicine. Anwara earns between $100 and $200 U.S. a month in a place where the average salary is $280 a year.

(on camera): Anwara is one of 2.4 million Bangladeshis living in villages like this one, taking out loans to open up small businesses, and 95 percent of these businesses are run by women.

(voice-over): Anwara says business success can lead to changes at home.

BEGUM (through translator): If she can earn 10 taka and her husband earn 10 taka, then she have equal rights for decision-making and other things in the family.

WALLACE: Anwara's been able to buy a television, cots and a refrigerator for her family. She's on her way to living a better life. And she has this advice for other women here:

BEGUM (through translator): You can take also loan from Gremmain Bank and you can invest it in many businesses, like small shops, or poultry, or other things; and if you can work hard, you can change your conditions.

WALLACE: Kelly Wallace, CNN, near Dhaka, Bangladesh.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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