Back in the summer of 1975, a group of women met at the first United Nations Conference on Women in Mexico City. A Danish economist named Ester Boserup had just published an analysis noting that while women performed over 65% of the world’s work, they earned only 10% of the income, and owned less than 1% of the world’s property. And women were routinely denied commercial banking privileges. One of the attendees, Michaela Walsh, had what was at the time a radical observation: unless women got access to money and credit, they would never have power.

Over the next decade, the network she created, which has come to be known as Women’s World Banking, became one of the pioneering forces in helping women entrepreneurs enter the financial world and get credit they would not otherwise have been able to access. Today, WWB is an integral part of what we all know as microfinance.