On Wednesday, October 19th, Pro Mujer brought together longtime friends and supporters (as well as many new faces) and celebrated its annual “Giving Women Credit” Benefit at Cipriani 42nd Street.
The event recognized Kathleen A. Corbet, Founder & Principal of Cross Ridge Capital as “Humanitarian of the Year” and Manuel Medina-Mora, Chairman, Global Banking Council, CEO, Consumer Banking for the Americas, Chairman and CEO, Latin America for Banamex and Citi as “Microfinance Partner of the Year.”
The event also saluted a very special guest – Luisa Daniel Pérez, a Pro Mujer client from Mexico and Banamex’s 2010 “Microentrepreneur of the Year” award-winner in the category of “Best Rural Microenterprise by a Female.”
During the evening’s festivities, Pro Mujer CEO Rosario Pérez also announced a major milestone. Over the course of its 21-year history, Pro Mujer has disbursed more than US$1 billion dollars in small loans that today average US$340 dollars.
6:30 PM – Red Carpet Arrivals, Tequila and Bidding Wars
The evening began with red carpet arrivals of the honorees, esteemed guests, Pro Mujer’s Board of Directors and staff.
In a nod to the heavy Mexican contingent, the cocktail reception started out with a tequila tasting featuring two, 100% premium agave tequila varieties thanks to a generous donation from the Beckmann Gonzalez family and Lunazul Tequila. For over eight generations, the Beckmann family has been at the center of the tequila world since the establishment of their first distillery in 1758.
In addition, the silent auction also featured dozens of wonderful items from the region including Argentinean wines donated by Testa Wines; a neo-pop flowerpot sculpture donated by Brazilian artist Romero Britto, luxury skin care products by Natura Bissé, an alpaca wool throw from Peruvian Connection, a creativity workshop led by renowned Argentinian author and artist, Alejandro Rocel and award-winning author and playwright, Shelley Berc, and a beautiful painting by Argentinian-born, London-based artist Maria Noel.
7:40 PM – Opening Remarks and Awards
Rosario Pérez kicked off the evening by welcoming our two Co-Founders Lynne Patterson and Carmen Velasco. Lynne and Carmen founded the organization in El Alto, Bolivia in 1990 based on their belief in a woman’s inherent right and desire to improve her life and that of her family, and in her ability to do so if only given access to the right resources. What started out as a two-person operation has since grown to become a leading women’s development and microfinance organization with more than 1,500 employees in six countries.
Gail Landis, Chair of Pro Mujer’s Board of Directors, presented the first award of the evening – the “Humanitarian of the Year” award – to Kathleen A. Corbet.
Gail explained how Kathleen has been “a wonderful – and a very impactful – friend to Pro Mujer.” Not only did Kathleen support the organization at its first annual benefit in 2005, “she was a founding member of our Senior Advisors, and her early commitment helped us to build what is now an illustrious group.” Today, this group includes Paul Volcker (two-term, former Federal Reserve Chairman), William Novelli (Co-Founder and former President of the worldwide public relations agency, Porter Novelli) and Marianne C. Brown (President and CEO of Omgeo), among others.
Luis Rubio, President of the Mexico City-based Center of Research for Development and a prolific writer and commentator on some of the most pressing political, economic and international issues, introduced the evening’s second honoree and Pro Mujer’s “Microfinance Partner of the Year,” Manuel Medina-Mora.
During his acceptance speech, Manuel said, “The empowerment of women throughout the world is not only a matter of equity and fairness. It is a necessary condition for achieving economic development and sustainable growth. Nowhere is this truer than in Latin America. Women in Latin America are the center of the family and the community. When you educate a woman, you ensure a future for her children, and thus make significant progress in improving the economic and social fabric of our society.”
8:45 PM – A Major Milestone and 1 Voice of More Than 230,000
The second part of the program began with a keynote address by Rosario Pérez, where she announced the $1 billion dollar milestone. She went on to explain that in addition to financial services such as savings, loans and insurance, Pro Mujer has provided business and empowerment training, preventive health education and primary health care to 1.6 million women and their approximately 6.4 million children and family members.
In making the announcement, Rosario said, “Poverty is a complex issue that cannot be resolved with credit alone – nor can it be done alone. Reaching this $1 billion dollar milestone would not have been possible without the support of so many people in our mission to provide women living in impoverished communities with easy and convenient access to vital services that are either lacking or simply out of reach.” To read the press release in its entirety, please click here.
Highlighting one of the many women we serve across Latin America, Rosario then unveiled the exclusive premiere of a documentary profile piece featuring the evening’s special guest, Luisa Daniel Pérez. Following the video, which can be viewed here, Luisa received a standing ovation and addressed the more than 500 guests to tell her story in her own words.
9:00 PM – Going Once, Going Twice…
After Luisa’s speech, Melanie Sabelhaus led the crowd through an exciting live auction featuring communal bank sponsorship as well as donated stays in beautiful hotels and properties such as a private home in Argentina, the Hotel El Convento in Nicaragua, and Casa Andina in Peru.