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We caught up with VisionFund International to learn about the progress they’ve made on their Campaign Commitment announced at the 2013 Partnerships against Poverty Summit. Not only is their achievement impressive, but their dedication to measuring poverty through the PPI to ensure maximum impact and drive decision-making is inspiring. Refilwe Mokoena, VisionFund’s Progress out of Poverty Index Manager shares with us their developments and goals as they work towards the end of extreme poverty.
VisionFund International works in partnership with World Vision to improve the lives of children by providing financial services to poor communities. At the 2013 Partnerships against Poverty Summit in Manila, , we expressed our Commitment to the Microcredit Summit Campaign by pledging to implement the Progress out of Poverty Index (PPI) in 21 out of the 36 countries where we work by the end of 2014.By achieving our Campaign Commitment, we will target some of the most vulnerable households, which will also help us work towards our own goal of impacting 3.5 million children every year.
Over the past three years, our network has made considerable progress in rolling out the tool with 18 MFIs in Asia, Africa and Latin America – and another two are set to begin use by the end of 2014. While our goal was 21 PPI users, one MFI has elected to use another measure of poverty because the indicators for their PPI have become outdated, a challenge we are working to address. This means we are well on track to achieving our Campaign Commitment of rolling out the PPI to a total of 20 MFIs at the end of 2014.
Using the PPI to Understand Poverty Outreach and More
Our premise for implementing PPI at VisionFund is to ensure our MFIs are reaching the poor and to understand whether their lives are improving over time. The first step has been for MFIs to collect data around poverty from incoming clients to help us to understand poverty outreach. We have then moved on to incorporate the PPI tool in application forms for existing clients.
We are also using PPI data to set poverty outreach targets, and will begin testing a methodology to track poverty rates of the same clients over time. These targets were identified as two major goals for our network in 2014.
So far 17 of our MFIs have started the process of benchmarking PPI results against national and regional poverty data in order to understand poverty outreach. They will then agree upon poverty targeting goals and strategies that will be included in their annual business plans. Through this exercise, our MFIs have demonstrated their commitment not only to PPI implementation, but also to using PPI data to inform their annual strategy. Furthermore, a group of MFIs have committed to developing and testing models to measure changes in poverty levels over time that other MFIs in our network can adopt in the future.
Challenges and Achievements
Ensuring our MFIs maintain a poverty focus in their operations has not been without its challenges and we continue to learn from and respond to thesekey lessons. Our MFIs are currently working to integrate the PPI into operations and find increasingly efficient ways of collecting data, so as to minimize the additional workload on field staff. Similarly, as the PPI becomes part of application forms, VisionFund has had to find innovative ways of manipulating data and correlating poverty information with alreadyexisting financial data. All this is aimed at embedding the PPI in the routine activities and systems of each MFI so that data collection, reporting and usage become part of “business as usual” throughout the network.
To make sure that the PPI indicators remain relevant to the changing economies and living standards in its countries of operation, we are playing an active role in working with the Grameen Foundation and others in the industry to ensure the longevity and updating of PPI scorecards.
Despite these challenges, VisionFund MFIs have continued to actively work to target the poor and have been increasingly recognized for these efforts. Catholic Relief Services recently highlighted the social performance and PPI work of VisionFund Ethiopia through a promotional video explaining how they integrate PPI into operations and decision-making. Meanwhile, our MFIs in the Philippines, Mexico and Kenya have all achieved the Kiva Badge for Anti-Poverty focus, which recognizes MFIs for deeper into poor populations.
VisionFund Ethiopia’s use of the PPI
Through our use of the PPI, broader commitment to social performance, and partnership with World Vision, VisionFund International is improving the lives of some of the world’s most vulnerable children and contributing to eradicating the world of extreme poverty.
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