Microcredit opens doors for Dutch photographer

RNW archive

This article is part of the RNW archive. RNW is the former Radio Netherlands Worldwide or Wereldomroep, which was founded as the Dutch international public broadcaster in 1947. In 2011, the Dutch government decided to cut funding and shift RNW from the ministry of Education, Culture and Science to the ministry of Foreign Affairs. More information about RNW Media’s current activities can be found at https://www.rnw.org/about-rnw-media.

Shitu Lama, a tailor in Ethiopia, and El Hadj Becaye Saur, a fisherman in Senegal, beam with pride in the businesses they’ve set up with microcredit loans. They're just two of the many successful African microcredit users photographed over the last year and a half by Dutch photographer Raymond Rutting.

“I was given the freedom to make my kind of pictures about microcredit,” explains Mr Rutting. “I chose to make penetrating portraits, which also show something about the surroundings.” His photographs include some commissioned by Terrafina Microfinance, a Dutch microcredit organisation.

For the community
Mr Rutting says most people are pleased to co-operate. “They know the money is coming from somewhere, and realise the photos are important for their community. Sometimes, it was a bit more difficult, like in Ethiopia. I was told by one local: ‘You’re standing in my cornfield, taking photos. In days gone by, I would have killed you!’”

Mr Rutting was moved by some of the talks he had with the small-time entrepreneurs. He tells a story about a woman selling mangos: “Her husband had died. She was able to afford to send her kids to school by selling mangos in the market.”

One thing really struck him during his talks with people. “A good farmer cannot earn enough to get a loan from an ordinary bank to extend the business, but earns too much to be eligible for new microcredit. That can’t be right.”

Small fortune
Raymond Rutting’s photographs can be seen until 2 January 2011 in the exhibition Klein Geluk (A Little Happiness) in the Geldmuseum (Money Museum) in Utrecht. After the show, the photos will be auctioned and the profits will go to a micofinance project in in Busaa Gonofaa, Ethiopia.