Actress Natalie Portman is determinedly campaigning for women in third-world countries to establish their own banking system.

The Hollywood star, 23, is spokesperson for the FOUNDATION FOR INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY ASSISTANCE (FINCA) and has visited villages in Guatemala and Uganda to meet the women who run the community banks there.

Portman says, "It's so abstract to imagine a life parallel to yours.

"But then to actually go and meet someone and see how they live, meet their children - it's extraordinary.

"Banks don't serve the poor.

"A lot of women don't have any options for money.

"Most of them are single and raising kids."

04/08/2004 17:06