Lana Parrilla & FINCA Canada

Empowering Women around the World

“I chose to become an ambassador for FINCA Canada because their model creates empowerment and dignity for women. They focus on giving women the financial tools they need to run a small business. These women already have the knowledge, perseverance and skills to lift their families out of poverty; they just need access to finance to reach their true potential. Their earnings go straight back to their families; to educating their children, to putting nutritious food on the table, and to reinvesting in their businesses so they can continue building on their progress. Their strength is so inspiring, and because these mothers invest in their children, all of their futures become brighter.” – Lana Parrilla

Women in developing countries provide much of or all the household income in many families. Yet they make up the majority of the world’s 2 billion unbanked individuals, and their chances of receiving credit are lower than that of men. Income inequality and a lack of access to financing limit women’s potential for financial growth, and often force them, along with their families, into a devastating cycle of poverty. Lana Parrilla acts as an ambassador for FINCA Canada to change this reality.

Photo courtesy: FINCA

Lana Parrilla, best known for her role as the Evil Queen Regina Mills on ABC’s hit TV series Once Upon A Time, has a feather tattooed on her right wrist. To her it symbolizes hope for the future and a constant reminder to persevere through challenging times, and, above all, to trust that she is exactly where she is meant to be in life.

Lana became an advocate for FINCA ’s clients because she recognizes that where she is at today — and her perseverance through past obstacles — now allows her to play a critical role in raising awareness about the challenges faced by women living in poverty around the world. She knows that there are women who persevere through hardships every day and yet have never had the opportunity to get ahead in life.

Photo courtesy: FINCA

“I chose to become an ambassador for FINCA Canada because their model creates empowerment and dignity for women. They focus on giving women the financial tools they need to run a small business. These women already have the knowledge, perseverance and skills to lift their families out of poverty; they just need access to finance to reach their true potential.”

If you meet a FINCA client and ask them what they spend their profits on, the last thing they think of is themselves. “Their earnings go straight back to their families; to educating their children, to putting nutritious food on the table, and to reinvesting in their businesses so they can continue building on their progress. Their strength is so inspiring,” Lana notes, “and because these mothers invest in their children, all of their futures become brighter.”

Photo courtesy: FINCA

At a young age, Lana discovered her passion for acting through her aunt, actress Candice Azzara. She wanted to be just like her. “I looked up to my aunt as this glamourous, educated, spiritual woman who was like a mother to me.”

This important connection between generations of women rings true throughout the world. Mothers and children. Aunts and nieces. Grandmothers and grandchildren. This is why FINCA has helped over 4 million women living in poverty gain access to microcredit since 1985; empower one woman, and you provide a role model for so many others.

FINCA’s clients access microloans that enable them to expand their small businesses, increase their income and save for the future. In fact, 74% of FINCA’s women clients report they have become the primary breadwinners for their families.

Women just like Harriet Tizitta. Harriet is a mother of four who lives in Kampala, Uganda. She started a business selling tomatoes and onions in her local market. However, she could only afford to purchase a sack or two of vegetables at a time. With a FINCA loan, however, she was able to increase her stock of produce, and slowly, her business began to grow.

Photo courtesy: FINCA

Today, Harriet has her own grocery shop and is also planning to build a house to rent out. Thanks to her increased profits, she was able to afford the school fees for her four children. Her daughter, Denise, is now studying to become a doctor. Denise knows that without the hard work her mother puts in every day, she wouldn’t be able to pursue her dream. “FINCA has helped my mom a lot,” Denise says. “And it has helped me a lot. I couldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for FINCA.”

Believing that women like Harriet all over the world deserve the opportunity to create a better life for themselves and their families, Lana has been instrumental in raising awareness for FINCA using social media. She also started the “Long Live The Queen” fundraising campaign, based on her character in Once Upon A Time, which resulted in more than $25,000 being raised in just a few weeks.

Later this year Lana will be working with FINCA Canada on the launch of a new program, partnering with women living in poverty in Haiti and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She will be lending her voice to help raise awareness and funds in support of FINCA’s life-changing work. You, too, can make a difference! Visit FINCACanada.org to make a donation and find out more.

Microfinance is effective because it is a hand up, not a hand out.