We are all lobbyists

RESULTS is hosting its 35th annual International Conference on Capitol Hill in Washington DC from July 18th to July 21st, featuring many leading poverty experts, activists. and policy makers.

Join us at the 2015 RESULTS International Conference in Washington, D.C., this July 18-21. Leading poverty experts, activists, policymakers, and YOU will convene for a unique conference that mixes an educational experience and advocacy opportunities around increased access to education, health, and economic opportunity. Together, we can change the world!

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This article was originally posted by RESULTS on June 23, 2015. Re-posted with permission.

>>Authored by Susan Fleurant, 2015 RESULTS U.S. Poverty Campaigns Intern

I arrived in Washington, D.C. this summer for an internship at RESULTS with only the certainty of ceaseless heat and humidity and not fully knowing what else to expect. Then on June 9, I went to Capitol Hill and lobbied for the first time with Bread for the World, an anti-hunger organization. Lobbying is a word that carries with it a heavily negative connotation, a word that evokes images of wealthy businessmen persuading legislators one way or another. As a student pursuing a career in policy, I always said that I would never be a lobbyist, because I subscribed to this professional and negative definition of the word. While much of politics in the United States these days does involve the interests of wealthy corporations and professional lobbyists, the reality is that we can all be lobbyists.

It is easy to forget that Congress works for us, the voters. Our votes put people into office, and our votes can remove people from office. Yes, that oversimplifies the process, and while I acknowledge the role of campaign finance and special interests in both the campaign and legislative processes, citizens are not doing enough to change what has become the not-so-pleasant status quo of American politics. The truth is, the United States has abysmal voter turnout, yet a high percentage of the population complains about those in office and policy decisions that are made.

So what are we doing about it? Complaining to our neighbors and coworkers about the state of the nation will not move us in a new direction. We need to channel our concerns and our visions for the future of the country into positive civic engagement. We need to teach our children the importance of voting and the significance of civic engagement in maintaining a healthy democracy. As citizens of a representative democracy we have the opportunity to speak with our representatives whether through writing a letter, making a phone call, or scheduling an in-person meeting, and we must exercise these rights. Too few people take advantage of these opportunities, leaving lobbying to the groups that give the act its negative connotation. This lack of engagement is likely the result of a cynical view towards American politics in general paired with a lack of knowledge about the avenues available for engagement and correspondence. This is where educators and parents play a key role in providing the information from a young age about the variety of ways to engage in our democracy in order to demystify the process.

As I sat in a senator’s office on Capitol Hill speaking with a legislative advisor about why child nutrition programs are important, providing factual evidence paralleled with a personal story, I realized that I was a lobbyist, and it was perhaps one of the most democratic acts in which I could take part. I felt both empowered and perturbed. Empowered because I realized that I could lobby and make my voice heard on Capitol Hill, and perturbed because I did not understand why it took me this long to realize that. I feel lucky to have had this opportunity now before I carried on with a skewed idea of lobbying.

I think that government is too often presented as a separate entity to which average citizens do not have access, and this sentiment undermines democracy by leaving people uneducated about their ability to participate in the political system. Voting is often the extent of political participation for many people, and others do not even make it that far. It is time for us to reexamine our democracy and encourage active engagement through a variety of means. Lobbying is not just wealthy corporations and special interest groups; lobbying is citizens writing letters, making phone calls, and stopping by for visits. Get out there and lobby, trust me, it is empowering. You can make a difference. Share your concerns, describe your visions for the future, tell your personal stories, and make your voice heard. In the end, we are all lobbyists.

Want to have your own experience lobbying on Capitol Hill? Join RESULTS and attend the International Conference.

Why go to an advocacy conference?

Join us at the 2015 RESULTS International Conference to learn new skills, hear from experts, and raise your voice on Capitol Hill this July 18th to 21st.

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This blog post was cross-posted from Cynthia Changyit Levin’s blog (@ccylevin), Anti-Poverty Mom: Raising my voice & my kids on May 13, 2015. Re-posted with permission.

To all my readers raising tiny children and learning to advocate, I’m going to say something to you that may sound a little crazy. I think it’s time you go to an advocacy conference in Washington D.C. Many advocacy organizations with a national presence that have been around for a good number of years have conferences in D.C. where you can learn from experts about your issue, hear inspirational speakers, and lobby your members of Congress. If you can rustle up the child care, I think you should find one you like and go to it!

“What? Take three days away from my baby? You’ve got to be kidding me! I don’t have that kind of time for myself!” That was exactly my reaction when someone suggested that I learn more about hunger and advocacy by going to the Bread for the World Gathering. I was a new activist, full of excitement about my very first letter to the editor recently published in the local paper. The Bread organizer at my church recognized potential in me to be a powerful activist and thought the best way for me to get involved would be to jump right in and go to a conference and lobby day event. It was so flattering to me that she thought so, but…what about the baby?

At the 2008 RESULTS International Conference with fellow RESULTS champions for education at the White House

It turns out I did go. The baby was just fine for a whole weekend with my husband and it was a life-changing experience for me. I heard inspirational, international speakers who convinced me that I — as an American citizen — had a powerful voice to influence the course of poverty throughout my country and the world. I started relationships with like-minded people who would become critical in helping me not feel alone in my desire to make the world a better place. I learned advocacy skills that I took home and would eventually teach to others in my community. It was a thrilling leap into the pool of activism when I’d been just sitting on the edge dangling my toes. Not only did I go to the Bread gathering that year, but I met RESULTS activists there who encouraged me to go to their conference the following year. Much later, my participation at those conferences led to invitations to the Shot@Life Summit and the ONE #AYASummit. Each conference has brought me new connections, new skills, and new confidence in myself.

You might be thinking, “Great for her, but not for me. I’m too busy to add a work conference in the middle of my life.” Fair point. That’s what I thought, too. Yet I want to share six things a conference can allow you to do that are much harder at home in your regular routine…

“You wouldn’t leave a cutie like me just to go learn how to save the world, would you? You would!?!”

  1. Take a break.
    Step away from the children, Ma’am. Your absence will be felt, but joyful side benefits to taking a few days away may include increased child-bonding with daddy, grandparents, or friends who watch them in your absence.
  2. Get a full night of sleep.
    One of my favorite things about a conference is getting real, deep sleep. A fellow activist once asked me what my plans for the evening were. I gave him a huge smile when I said “I’m going back to my room!” He joked that I was so happy about it that he wondered if there was a romantic plan up there for me. No, sirree! That’s just how much I like sleep with nobody needing a diaper change!
  3. Get out of your everyday routine.
    When you are away from the mundane, it’s somehow easier to see yourself as the exceptional, powerful individual you are. Shake it up and make some memories to think about when your back to making lunches.
  4. Be appreciated by someone over two feet tall.
    Toddlers are cute, but sometimes they aren’t the best at conveying that you are smart, capable, and valued. Sometimes they do it when they wrap those pudgy fingers around you and say, “I wuv ooo,” but it can feel like they take it all back when they dump applesauce on your lap immediately afterward.
  5. Dive deep into the facts.
    I don’t know about you, but I have immense trouble holding facts in my head when I’m trying to multitask with yelling infants. Not having to double and triple check the contents of your diaper bag really opens up a lot of space in your brain that you can fill with all sorts of information about your issue!
  6. Make some new friends.
    Not since college had I had such rich opportunities to come together to meet new and interesting people with a common goal. Some of my closest friends now are people I look forward to seeing at conferences each year.
  7. Lobby!
    Nothing convinces a member of Congress that you are serious more than the statement that you are a volunteer traveling on your own time to talk to them.
2013 Shot@Life Summit with my BFF's Jen DeFranco and Myrdin Thompson

2013 Shot@Life Summit with my BFF’s Jen DeFranco and Myrdin Thompson

Can’t afford a plane ticket to Washington D.C.? Scholarship or financial assistance is often available for first-time or low-income attendees. If I didn’t have one for my first conference, I wouldn’t have gone. Some organizations are willing to bet that if they invest in you by assisting you to attend once, you’ll have a great experience and want to come back again. If you are a low-income parent and want to talk to your members of Congress about poverty, then you are a valuable voice that needs to be added to the chorus.

If you’re still not sure it’s the right thing to leave your child for three days to go to a conference, just remind yourself why you are doing it. Is it to create a better world for your child? Is it to improve the lives of parents and children who are facing much more difficult situations than the travel dilemma you are facing now? Will this be a step in making you a more empowered, more satisfied mommy? These are very good reasons.

It’s true that if you go, there will be times you miss your children. There will likely be tears when you leave and when you get home. But I encourage you to take the leap for yourself and all the people in the world you want to help. You won’t be sorry!

How you can influence global policy priorities at the World Bank (event)

RESULTS is hosting its 35th annual International Conference on Capitol Hill in Washington DC from July 18th to July 21st, featuring many leading poverty experts, activists. and policy makers.

Join us at the 2015 RESULTS International Conference in Washington, D.C., this July 18-21. Leading poverty experts, activists, policymakers, and YOU will convene for a unique conference that mixes an educational experience and advocacy opportunities around increased access to education, health, and economic opportunity. Together, we can change the world!

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In just two weeks, RESULTS Educational Fund, the parent organization of the Microcredit Summit Campaign, will celebrate its 35th anniversary with the 2015 International Conference in Washington, D.C. We invite you to join in the festivities and attend our workshop called “Partnerships to End Poverty: Health, Government, and Financial Services” on Sunday, July 19th at 4:30 – 6:00 PM. The conference will be held at the Washington Court Hotel on Capitol Hill.

Only $85 a day!

RESULTS International Conference — only $85 a day!

Attendees of the International Conference will hear from leading experts, activists, and policymakers on the challenges and solutions to ending poverty. Join World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus (and, of course, founder of the Grameen Bank). Find out who else will be speaking here.

The conference agenda is designed to provide the information and tools to influence policymakers — so you can deliver the message directly to your representative on Capitol Hill and policymakers at the World Bank and USAID!

The Microcredit Summit Campaign’s role at RESULTS is to lift up financial inclusion solutions designed for the world’s extreme poor, creating economic opportunities to help lift themselves out of poverty. The Campaign will be leading a workshop at the International Conference about the future of financial inclusion.

Our session, entitled Partnerships to End Poverty: Health, Government, and Financial Services,” will focus on integrated health and microfinance and linking the graduation model and conditional cash transfers (CCTs). Learn why these are key pathways to help end extreme poverty and how you can influence the global development agenda. (Read more about the six pathways.)

Sonja Kelly of the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion will moderate a panel discussion with Olumide Elegbe of FHI 360 and our own Dr. DSK Rao and Larry Reed. Join us to develop your message and advocacy strategy around financial inclusion to end extreme poverty, and take it directly to major financial inclusion funders like the World Bank and USAID to influence their programmatic priorities in the over coming years.

About the panelists


Sonja Kelly, Fellow, CFI

Sonja Kelly is a fellow at the Center for Financial Inclusion at ACCION (@CFI_ACCION). She conducts research on supply and demand side opportunities to advance financial inclusion around the world, including income growth, demographic change, and policy shifts. Ms. Kelly is finishing her PhD at the School of International Service at American University, writing her dissertation on financial inclusion policy and regulation in low and middle income economies. Her research articulates the ways that international organizations and internal politics influence financial sector policy. She is also a consultant at the World Bank and the president of the DC chapter of Women Advancing Microfinance. Prior to joining CFI, Ms. Kelly worked in microfinance at Opportunity International.

Olumide Elegbe Olumide Elegbe, senior relationship manager at FHI 360, is a health and development expert with demonstrated results of building successful partnerships across sectors and geographies. With a focus on forging trusted, long term partnerships between the government, nonprofit and private sectors, Mr. Elegbe has a track record of brokering collaborative partnerships that drive social change by addressing health, education, sustainability and/or other development challenges. This, while delivering results and outcomes tailored to suit the needs of stakeholder individuals and organizations including market access, efficiencies in supply chain, and contribution to local GDP.

Mr. Elegbe has extensive international and cultural experience, spanning sub-Saharan Africa, Eastern and Western Europe as well as the USA. Prior to joining FHI 360, he worked as a public health specialist and a visiting lecturer in population medicine in the United Kingdom, and as technical advisor on public health programs in Nigeria.

Mr. Elegbe holds a Master’s Degree in Public Health with a minor in Health Services Management from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in the United Kingdom.

Dr. D.S.K. Rao, Regional Director for Asia-Pacific, Microcredit Summit Campaign

Dr. DSK Rao has been the regional director for the Asia-Pacific region with the Microcredit Summit Campaign since 2000. The Campaign draws heavily on his wide experience and familiarity with the sector while organizing the regional and global summits. Dr. Rao has conducted scores of workshops and trainings on tools for practitioners in Asia to track poverty and other social outcomes including the Cashpor Household Index, Poverty Wealth Ranking, and the Progress out of Poverty Index. Dr. Rao is presently implementing a Johnson & Johnson-funded project for integrating health with microfinance in India, in collaboration with Freedom from Hunger. He has co-authored two books on microfinance: The New Middlewomen and Development and Divinity and Dharma.

Larry Reed, Director, Microcredit Summit Campaign

Larry Reed has headed up the Microcredit Summit Campaign (@MicroCredSummit) since taking over the reins from founder, Sam Daley-Harris in 2011. Mr. Reed has co-authored the annual State of the Campaign Report for the last 5 years. He has worked for more than 25 years in designing, supporting, and leading activities and organizations that empower poor people to transform their lives and their communities. For the majority of that time, Reed worked with Opportunity International, including five years as their Africa regional director and eight years as the first CEO of the Opportunity International Network.


Our workshop will be held on Sunday, July 19th
from 4:30 – 6:00 PM
.

To attend the workshop and the International Conference, email IC2015[at]results.org
or register online

Daily registration is only $85.

RESULTS is an international movement of grassroots advocates raising their voices to end poverty. Through government program and policy advocacy, RESULTS staff and its massive network of grassroots activists help to address the root causes of poverty: lack of access to medical care, education, and opportunity to move up the economic ladder. Click here to read more about RESULTS.


Get Inspired. Set a Goal. Make a Commitment.

Join the movement to help 100 million families lift themselves out of extreme poverty:

Equitas commits to improve focus on clients and service coverage

Read the press release announcing Equitas’ Campaign Commitment
Read their Commitment letter
Photo courtesy of Equitas

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The Microcredit Summit Campaign welcomes Equitas, a major Indian microfinance institution (MFI), as the 56th organization to make a Campaign Commitment, joining a global coalition working to help 100 million families lift themselves out of extreme poverty.

Equitas is committing to expand its financial services and non-financial services to the following number of clients in the financial year 2015-2016 :

  • Provide 1.5 million clients with financial services.
  • Cover 70,000 clients under the food security program.
  • Cover 50,000 clients under the health education program.
  • Screen the health of 850,000 clients.
  • Partner hospitals will provide 3,000 Equitas clients discounted consultation/ treatment.
  • Use the Progress out of Poverty Index to measure the poverty level of 1.5 million clients.
  • Provide financial support to 3,000 disabled women.
  • Rehabilitate 200 homeless pavement dwellers.
  • Screen, educate, and track the health of 3,500 students in the 6 schools run by Equitas Trust.
  • Provide gainful employment to 15,000 unemployed youth.
  • Train 50,000 women in new skills to increase their income.

P.N. Vasudevan, founder and managing director of Equitas Micro Finance India P. Ltd., explains their mission and how they support the well-being of their clients:

“When we founded Equitas in 2007, we wanted to create an MFI which would be a global benchmark in fairness and transparency, two facets sadly missing from most of the MFIs globally.  Equitas is a Latin word meaning ‘Equitable,’ which means fair and transparent, and this philosophy is woven into every action of Equitas.  Equitas had started lending at 25.5% in 2007 (at a time when the other MFI rates were in the high thirties) and after 4 years, Reserve Bank of India capped the lending rate for MFIs in India at 26%! The Equitas Ecosystem Model is designed to support the well-being of our clients by providing financial and non financial services with a clear focus to address a large spectrum of their requirements in the field of health, education, skill development, food security during emergencies, placement for unemployed youth and many more.”

Equitas is an NBFC MFI with headquarters at Chennai, India, and operations in eight states, namely Tamil Nadu, Pondy, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Chattisgarh. Equitas has about 2.8 million active borrowers as of 31st March, 2015. Along with financial services, Equitas is also promoting several non-financial services aiming at holistic development of their clients and their families.

Read Commitment Letter from Equitas.

The Microcredit Summit Campaign looks forward to welcoming our new partners to the global coalition and sharing their progress towards the Commitment achievement at the 18th Microcredit Summit. The Campaign’s 100 Million Project is building a movement among financial service stakeholders committed to helping to end extreme poverty through: public statements of commitment to action, expanding practices to reliably measure movement out of extreme poverty, and promoting innovations and best practices to accelerate movement out of poverty.


We invite you to join Equitas and…

Get Inspired. Set a Goal. Make a Commitment.

Join the movement to help 100 million families lift themselves out of extreme poverty:

Grama Vidiyal commits to expanding health services to clients

Read the press release announcing Grama Vidiyal’s Campaign Commitment
Read their Commitment letter
Photo courtesy of Grama Vidiyal

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The Microcredit Summit Campaign welcomes Grama Vidiyal, a major Indian microfinance institution (MFI), as the 55th organization to make a Campaign Commitment, joining a global coalition working to help 100 million families lift themselves out of extreme poverty.

Grama Vidiyal commits to expand its financial and non-financial services to the following number of clients in the financial year 2015-2016:

  • Provide an additional 150,000 clients with financial services in FY15
  • Help 1,050,000 community members through Grama Vidiyal’s empowerment program.
  • Organize 720 health camps for clients, screening 300,000 members.
  • Provide 10,000 clients with discounted consultation/treatment in partner hospitals.
  • Provide health education to 80,000 client families (or community).
  • Give access to health related products and medicines to 150,000 clients.
  • Help 800,000 clients with the Free Meals program.
  • Install 1,000 household toilet connections and 4,000 water tap connections.
  • Establish 80 Community Knowledge Centers, engaging 30 poor students each (a total of 2,400 students), to motivate learning basic math and English.
  • Help 500,000 clients with the Health Service and Development Program that provides sanitary napkins for women.
  • Use the Progress out of Poverty Index to measure the poverty level of 35,000 clients.

Sathianathan Devaraj, chairman and managing director of Grama Vidiyal, explains the importance of microfinance as a means to financial inclusionhealth:

“Microfinance is a very important tool for financial inclusion, which provides financial services for poor entrepreneurs and small businesses lacking access to formal banking and related services. Microfinance creates a window for the poor where they can access quality financial services such as credit, savings, insurance etc., without inhibition. A double bottom line approach with the right balance of fiscal performance and positive social impact is key to the microfinance’s success. Formal banks identified and promoted bankable people, but microfinance introduced and proved that even the poor are trustworthy and bankable.”

Grama Vidiyal is one of the largest Indian microfinance institutions, serving one million clients over 5 Indian states. Their objective is to focus on eradication of poverty and improving the standard of living of downtrodden women.

Read Campaign Commitment letter from Grama Vidiyal.

The Microcredit Summit Campaign looks forward to welcoming our new partners to the global coalition and sharing their progress towards the Commitment achievement at the 18th Microcredit Summit. The Campaign’s 100 Million Project is building a movement among financial service stakeholders committed to helping to end extreme poverty through: public statements of commitment to action, expanding practices to reliably measure movement out of extreme poverty, and promoting innovations and best practices to accelerate movement out of poverty.


We invite you to join Grama Vidiyal and…

Get Inspired. Set a Goal. Make a Commitment.

Join the movement to help 100 million families lift themselves out of extreme poverty:

Measuring client health outcomes using simple indicators

A local community health volunteer trained and supervised by Bandhan, an Indian MFI, meets with members of a local self-help group and their families. (Photo courtesy of Johnson & Johnson)

A local community health volunteer trained and supervised by Bandhan, an Indian MFI, meets with members of a local self-help group and their families. (Photo courtesy of Johnson & Johnson)

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>>Authored by Sabina Rogers, Communications and Relationships Manager

More than two years ago, we set out with Freedom from Hunger to develop and test a standardized set of health indicators as part of a Campaign Commitment we co-launched in 2013. This has culminated with the release of Healthy, Wealthy and Wise: How Microfinance Institutions Can Track the Health of Clients. The report describes our experience in selecting and pilot-testing a set of indicators. It will help you choose the right indicators for monitoring client health outcomes over time. And finally, the report summarizes key recommendations for developing “standardized” client outcome monitoring indicators.

We hope financial services providers and others will use our “health outcome performance indicators” (HOPI) to assess the health and well-being of clients and their families. We believe that wide usage of the HOPI would create short- and long-term value for practitioners (both health and financial services), social investors and donors, raters, and other actors. “Health” is a basic need that crosses all borders and all demographics, making the HOPI compelling measures for understanding client outcomes for financial service providers.

Four MFIs pilot tested the HOPI in 2014 (see below), and we shared results from ESAF’s and Equitas’ experiences in India in a webinar in March.

Financial Service Provider Country No. of Clients being served by FSP No. of clients participating in health indicators survey
ESAF India 450,000 700
Equitas India 1,344,361 551*
CARD Philippines 1,828,052 472
ADRA Peru 17,039 95

*Equitas had completed 234 surveys by the time we began data analysis. Therefore, the HOPI report only covers analysis for the first 234 data points

The HOPI measure 6 dimensions: poverty, food security and nutrition, preventive health care, curative health care, water and sanitation, and attitudes. The results from these four MFIs highlighted the added value of health indicators when combined with poverty measurement in helping MFIs understand client well-being. For example, the food security measure was useful to detect vulnerability; while very few clients in Peru fell under any of the poverty lines, 40 percent of them scored as food insecure.

We also found that whether clients treat their water was most frequently associated with poverty levels. However, to correctly interpret this measure, this dimension should not be used without assessing household drinking-water sources as well.

The curative health care dimension results were particularly informative and the questions have broad applicability across contexts. Results from the four MFIs showed that up to 60 percent of clients didn’t seek treatment because of costs. In Peru and the Philippines, we also learned that clients were not very confident in their ability to cover future health costs or to receive adequate medical care.

Because it’s so context-specific, the preventive health care dimension is the most complicated, yet it is also very important to include because it could be predictive of future health outcomes. As we look at adapting to new countries, national health surveys will be the most useful source for indicators.

While collecting the data was fairly simple, the bigger test will come from an organization’s ability to analyze and interpret the data so that action can be taken. In the pilots, we provided technical support to the four MFIs to analyze the data, but that level of input is not likely to be sustainable. Therefore, we are now developing an easy-to-use, Excel-based data collection and analysis tool for distribution later this year. If you are curious, then, about the health outcome performance indicators, here is what you should know:

  • They are practical to measure and monitor client health over time (annually or as part of other monitoring tools such as the Progress out of Poverty Index®).
  • They can be reported by clients in a monitoring survey.
  • They can be benchmarked to other regional, national, and global health goals and data.
  • They are reliable and are subject to change over time.
  • They will be relevant and useful for FSPs to measure and improve measures of program impact on client health and well-being.
  • They will provide donors, investors, government, health actors, and others with important information to guide decisions about support and social investment.

If you would like to learn how you can adapt the HOPI to your institution’s needs, contact Bobbi Gray (email) or DSK Rao (email).

Related reading

How relationships with telcos are helping achieve financial inclusion

African market

“Unless we can understand that — unless we can start from the viewpoint of what the customer needs,” explains Richard Leftley, CEO of MicroEnsure, “then it’s not sufficient to just provide access to these financial services, they actually have to be tailored around the needs of the customers.” (Photo credit: MicroEnsure)

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>>Authored by Richard Leftley, CEO, MicroEnsure

A period of reflection

Read MicroEnsure’s Commitment letter
Read their announcement blog post

When considering our commitments for the Microcredit Summit Campaign last year, I wanted to address the very real key issues faced by middle-to-low income families across Africa when bad things happen to them. I wanted to work towards providing some kind of safety-net to help ensure they don’t fall into poverty when these events occur.

With that in mind, we committed to reaching 10 million customers with insurance services and expanding our reach into 15 countries over the course of the year. This, I felt, would be a suitably significant commitment to make, one that would show just how serious we as a company take this issue and reflect the level of work we are putting in.

Twelve months on and I’m reflecting on some astonishing numbers. MicroEnsure is now serving over 15 million customers and has a presence in 17 countries globally; this is no mean feat by any stretch of the imagination, especially when you consider that we are growing at a rate of 1 million new customers every month.

Needs, not assumptions

At MicroEnsure we’ve been really lucky to work with some large organisations — some really large partners — organisations like Airtel. We found that partnership is the best way to provide access to the working poor because it enables us to significantly reduce the costs of selling and administering these policies on behalf of the poor.

I think a lot of us have assumed that people just need access to financial services and that if as “an industry” we come along and provide access, then that that’s sufficient — it’s enough just to provide access.

Actually, if you think about the way it’s presented, “the financial inclusion landscape” is about including people and that, somehow, that will meet the needs that they have.

In reality, I think that we have to go one step further than that; we need to understand what it is that consumers need, what are the risks that they face in their everyday lives, and how do they want to deal with those risks?

Unless we can understand that — unless we can start from the viewpoint of what the customer needs — then it’s not sufficient to just provide access to these financial services, they actually have to be tailored around the needs of the customers.

Reflecting on these numbers, it prompted me to think about how all this has been possible in what really is such a short period of time.

Creating access

What’s certain is that access to the products we offer is a need and not a wish. When we visited the countries and the communities we were trying to help, we started to understand what low-income customers can afford, and started to get the costs in line with that price point.

Mobile phone menuWe immediately thought of distribution via mobile networks, eliminating the high cost of insurance sales reps and making our offering more obtainable. Mobile telecom is ubiquitous in Africa and Asia, and telecommunications companies (or “telcos”) have “mobile wallet” apps like M-Pesa, Easypaisa, and Airtel Money that allow users to transfer money to one another via mobile phones. We figured that if we put our product in the mobile wallet — and made it even more affordable by offering payments in small installments– low-income families would enrol. Not so. One potential customer even told us, “It’s easier to sign up and pay in small installments, but I don’t trust insurance!”

Furthermore, it was hard to figure out which mobile wallet to appear in, as most mobile users had multiple SIM cards for multiple networks and spread their airtime minute purchases, or “top ups,” across them all.

Another access issue cropped up early: the need for product adaptation. We had to make sure that there were no complicated instructions or processes, but intuitive ones that fit with the way low-income people proceed about their lives. And, the benefits have to be readily apparent if someone is risking scarce resources on them.

In our case, we noticed that even when we did get insurance into the hands of a low-income family, they weren’t taking full advantage of it. We had to strip down the typical insurance process — filling out detailed forms, providing personal information — and create a simpler, easy-to-follow process for enrolling, which meant registering via text rather than a paper form. For claims, we decided to accept an imam’s word as proof of a death, or a claim written on a napkin, and we had to turn them around fast. We paid health insurance claims, via mobile transfers, in as short as one hour. Once initial customers saw the product working — quickly receiving benefits when they filed claims — word travelled.

Airtel claim 3

Photo credit: MicroEnsure

Rewarding relationships

Whilst we know that no one really wakes up in the morning thinking about — or wanting to buy — insurance, they do wake up worrying about the risks and problems they face should something happen to them. We also know that mobile phone companies have a problem in terms of customer loyalty in these markets, with many consumers often switching between different mobile phone networks.

The opportunity therefore presented itself for us to develop relationships with key telco companies in Africa and Asia, relationships that allowed us to try the idea of giving away free insurance in return for customer loyalty; if the customer remains loyal to the network, then they get access to free insurance.

We used behavioural economics to help us understand why someone would change their behaviour; what would be the driving force to make someone decide that actually now is the time to buy insurance, usually for the first time in their life. We needed to understand what the alternatives are, and understanding that actually the alternatives — indeed our greatest competitor…is doing nothing.

So, in many of the markets we work in, we have been able to provide something more compelling to consumers than just doing nothing, and this has really helped us to rethink the way in we’re going to engage with the consumer.

We realised that mobile phone companies actually had an issue with loyalty, so we convinced them that they should give away free insurance alongside airtime purchases so that the more customers spent with their network, the more free insurance they received.

What happened was that customers really enjoyed these products. They do wake up worrying about the risks they face, and if someone was willing to mitigate those risks, for free, then they were willing to change their consumer behaviour.

We found that customers started spending more and more of their airtime reload on those networks that offered free insurance. So when people come along with very simple products that are easy to understand, easy to access through a brand that customers trust — whether that-s their bank or their mobile phone company — and that financial access is made extremely easy, as easy as buying a ringtone, then there is a phenomenal demand and interest in having insurance.

This is especially true if this insurance can be offered free of charge, as a promotion that shows people how it works, that claims will be paid and paid quickly, and that the products do work for them. We’re finding that millions of people are coming forward and saying that, now they see that the product works, then they are willing to pay a small amount to keep that product and even add members of their family to it.

For the mobile phone companies, this not only increases customer volumes, but more importantly, it improves customer retention rates, creating a rewarding relationship for all involved.


Related reading


MicroEnsure launched a Campaign Commitment in 2014! We invite you also to…

Get Inspired. Set a Goal. Make a Commitment.

Join the movement to help 100 million families lift themselves out of extreme poverty:

CRECER Commitment focuses on women and movement above national poverty line

A female client from CRECER is managing her financial assets. Read the press release about CRECER’s Commitment, which focuses on women and movement above national poverty line
Photo courtesy of CRECER Bolivia

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The Microcredit Summit Campaign welcomes CRECER Bolivia as the 53rd Campaign Commitment maker, joining a global coalition working to help 100 million families lift themselves out of extreme poverty. A press release was issued on the Campaign website. CRECER was one of some 200 attendees that visited the Commitment Café during the 17th Microcredit Summit in Mexico last September to write on the Commitment Wall. (Read more about that.)

In their Commitment, Crédito con Educación Rural (CRECER) commits to support the Campaign’s goal in the following ways:

  • Continue to prioritize services for female clients: CRECER has 152,000 clients and will grow 3 percent per year to reach 166,000 clients by the end of 2017 while maintaining a rate of 80 percent women clients.
  • Clients in rural areas: Maintain a rate of 56 percent of total clients living in rural areas.
  • Strengthen financial education targeted towards women: By the end of 2015, have 75,000 female clients attend financial education events.
  • Support cervical cancer prevention: By the end of 2015, 25 percent of female clients will be receiving preventive screening each year, and it is expected that approximately 32,000 will benefit from this screening by the end of 2015.
  • Improve the quality of life: Of CRECER’s 152,000 clients, at least 65 percent live on less than double Bolivia’s poverty line ($2 per person per day), which is to say they live on less than $4 per day per person, while 41 percent are below the national poverty line. Our goal is that 10 percent of clients who are currently below the national poverty line raise their incomes from less than $2 to at least $4 per day, thus surpassing the poverty line. This process will be monitored with the Progress out of Poverty Index (PPI).

José Auad, CEO of CRECER, explains why they have joined the Microcredit Summit Campaign and this global coalition:

“Being a part of the Campaign…coincides with CRECER’s institutional philosophy. We are mindful of the responsibility that this signifies, as well as the responsibility we take on through the Commitment, for our fight against poverty began more than 25 years ago. We focus on a very vulnerable population, such as women in rural areas who, while truly experiencing poverty, are heroines in their daily struggle. We are convinced that by joining efforts and taking action…, we will reach the great goal of helping 100 million families around the world.”

CRECER is a development financial institution that provides financial and educational services to low-income women in Peru, in order to improve their quality of life and their families. It was founded in 1999 and its mission is to provide excellence and warmth with integrated financial products development services to improve the quality of life preferably women and their families. Read CRECER’s Campaign Commitment letter.

The Microcredit Summit Campaign looks forward to welcoming our new partners to the global coalition and sharing their progress towards the Commitment achievement at the 18th Microcredit Summit. The Campaign’s 100 Million Project is building a movement among financial service stakeholders committed to helping to end extreme poverty through: public statements of commitment to action, expanding practices to reliably measure movement out of extreme poverty, and promoting innovations and best practices to accelerate movement out of poverty.


We invite you to join CRECER and…

Get Inspired. Set a Goal. Make a Commitment.

Join the movement to help 100 million families lift themselves out of extreme poverty:

Six learning opportunities for the “Six Pathways”

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>>Authored by William Maddocks, director of the Sustainable Microfinance and Development Program (SMDP) at the University of New Hampshire’s Carsey School of Public Policy

New scrutiny has focused on what microfinance can’t do, and the evidence is growing that microfinance, de-linked from a social change paradigm, is simply another way to provide basic financial services to people historically excluded by the market. The new theme for the Microcredit Summit Campaign for 2015 of “financial inclusion to end extreme poverty” and the Six Pathways show promise in getting us there and can succeed in challenging extreme poverty if social change and equity are embedded as core values by those who fund, design, and implement these strategies.

These six pathways promoted by the Microcredit Summit Campaign touch on many of areas of the Carsey School of Public Policy’s current work. Using each pathway as a prompt, we will take a brief look at these themes and how you can get involved and learn more.

The Six Pathways

1) Mobile money linked with agent networks in low-income communities and other technological innovations

The SMDP New Hampshire Certificate 2015 in June will feature a session facilitated by Joyce Lehman, formerly with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on branchless banking and the Digital Revolution. If the infographic from Kenya tells us anything (below), it’s that digital financial services are growing exponentially beyond just transfers and remittances to group savings & loans, agricultural inputs insurance, water services, off-grid lighting, and more. Come to New Hampshire, USA, this summer to learn about this exciting frontier of financial inclusion from the unique perspective of a former donor who worked on the ground floor of paving the digital finance highway.

Infographic: Kenya's journey to digital financial inclusion

Kenya’s journey to digital financial inclusion (by Simone di Castri and Lara Gidvani – July 2013)
Source: GSMA

2) Ultra-poor graduation programs

Jan Maes, who has worked in designing graduation programs with Trickle Up and other organizations, will present findings during the SMDP New Hampshire Certificate on the effectiveness and challenges of using these strategies to move the ultra-poor into self-sufficiency.

3) Microfinance savings and/or borrowing groups linked with health education, health financing, and health product delivery

Kathleen Stack, vice president of programs for Freedom from Hunger, will make a virtual presentation at the SMDP NH on Microfinance and Health Protection (MAHP) initiatives that they are implementing with our friends, CARD MRI in the Philippines and the Microcredit Summit Campaign, and in other locations. Read more about the project, Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies, and how these three organizations, with the support of Johnson & Johnson, are helping address maternal and child health needs.

Photo courtesy of the Carsey School of Public Policy

Photo courtesy of the Carsey School of Public Policy

4) Agricultural value chains that reach to small-scale producers

Understanding markets is more than just knowing about products. The field of inclusive market development is moving from the linear value chain approach, to applying a systems approach that looks for, and adapts to, feedback from the system. Carsey has just launched SMDP Online and one of our first courses, “Understanding and Adapting to Complex Markets” will help practitioners understand complex adaptive systems and apply these concepts to their current work. SMDP Online course facilitator Mary Morgan, with more than 20 years of experience in development, promises a challenging and very practical learning experience for market development professionals.

5) Savings groups (aka village savings and loans associations)

One of the most promising strategies for reaching people that commercial microfinance has failed to reach are savings groups (SGs). Today more than 10 million people use SGs for saving, lending, building financial security, and social capital. Carsey has been a leader in savings groups training and learning events for several years and continues to expand opportunities to learn about this growing area of financial inclusion.

The SMDP Online will offer a blended course, “Savings Groups: Building Scale and Impact through Adaptation and Experimentation,” facilitated by Nanci Lee. This course will meet online for several months and then face-to-face in Lusaka, Zambia, during the SMDP Zambia, which occurs right before the next global gathering of SG practitioners, donors, researchers, and others at the SG 2015 conference also in Lusaka from November 10 to 12.

The lock box of a savings group in Africa

The lock box of a savings group in Africa
Photo courtesy of the Carsey School of Public Policy

6) Conditional cash transfers (CCTs) linked with mobile delivery and asset building

Reaching as many as 129 million people worldwide, CCTs work at a scale that few other anti-poverty programs can reach. Governments working with visionary partners like Fundación Capital can roll out programs that provide support, change social norms, and make a measurable impact on improving the lives of poor families. In the Dominican Republic, Fundación Capital has partnered with the Government’s ProSoli program and Banco ADOPEM and Banco Pyme BHD to connect savings groups with a CCT voucher program and bank linkages.

You can learn about this exciting pilot program by watching Jong Hyon Shin, Fundación Capital’s country project coordinator for the Dominican Republic, and her former professor (and Carsey Fellow) Jeffrey Ashe. (Watch the SEEP Network’s Taking Savings Groups on the Road Webinar Series.)

Relevant resources

Accessible and affordable microinsurance with Afua Donkor

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We are pleased to bring you this #ThursdayThrowback blog post, which was originally published in Resilience: The State of the Microcredit Summit Campaign Report, 2014. Afua Boahemaa Donkor, executive director of Star Microinsurance in Ghana, explains how they have developed microinsurance products that are simple and affordable for the poor.


>>Authored by Ana Hecton, former intern, and Sabina Rogers, Communications and Relationships Manager

SOCR 2014_front-cover_EN_270x348

You can read a transcript of her interview here.
Read the full report here.

The 2014 State of the Campaign Report features various actors in the microfinance sector that are taking steps to help their clients lift themselves out of poverty. In this interview Afua Boahemaa Donkor, executive director of Star Microinsurance in Ghana, talks to DSK Rao from the Microcredit Summit Campaign about how microinsurance works and how it can benefit the poorest. Ms. Donkor also discusses the challenges in providing coverage for the poorest.

Star Microinsurance in Ghana started in 2008 as a specialized microinsurance subsidiary of the Star Insurance Group. Star Microinsurance works to design microinsurance products, looks for distribution channels, and provides the back office administration of the products.

“Microinsurance is supposed to be suave. When I say that, it means that it has to be simple, accessible, understandable, fundable, and efficient.”

— Afua Boahemaa Donkor

Star Microinsurance aims to make their insurance accessible to all people, those living in the city and those living in remote areas. The microinsurance products that are offered by Star Microinsurance are “made very simple, the premiums are set to be very cheap, affordable, so that the informal person, in the rural sector, can afford to have insurance products.”

Star Microinsurance collaborates with rural banks, MFIs, and post offices where the product is located. The rural banks and post offices are spread all throughout Ghana, therefore being highly accessible to all people no matter their location.

The challenges that face microinsurance

When talking about microinsurance and selling it to those living in poverty, Ms. Donkor says that it is hard for people to grasp the concept that they are paying for a possibility that may or may not occur. For those living in extreme poverty, possibilities of the future or what could happen is not a high priority. The demand is for what they need right here, right now. Thus, trying to sell microinsurance to people whose concern is focused solely on getting through that day is very difficult. In fact, “insurance in general is a very difficult thing to sell whether to an educated person or an uneducated person because it is an intangible good we are selling.”

What we know of the impact of microinsurance

ei76 infographic en

A systematic review of the impact of microinsurance (2013) produced by the ILO’s Microinsurance Innovation Facility. Source: http://www.impactinsurance.org/emerging-insights/ei76

The 2015 Listening Tour: Mapping pathways for ending extreme poverty

Photo credit: by Geoff (originally posted to Flickr as Pilgrim’s path) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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“Wars of nations are fought to change maps. But wars of poverty are fought to map change.”
— Muhammad Ali

After the success of Generation Next: Innovation in Microfinance, our 17th Microcredit Summit (Mexico in 2014), the Microcredit Summit Campaign conducted a Listening Tour to identify how this next generation could contribute to ending extreme poverty (those living on less than $1.25 a day) by 2030. The theme that emerges from this consultation will be reflected across the Campaign: in the 2015 State of the Campaign Report, the 18th Microcredit Summit, and Campaign Commitments.

With the post-2015 development agenda under negotiation, the financial inclusion and microfinance sectors have an opportunity to assess our role in shaping the international development framework and reflect on the impact we can have on the lives of millions of the world´s extreme poor. Our Listening Tour was the first step in surveying our coalition of partners to see what our role in this endeavor should be.

The Listening Tour was our time to listen — and your time to speak — on the issues that the microfinance and financial inclusion sector face and served two purposes. First, it was our hope to find out how our audience (you) felt about the World Bank’s goal of eradicating poverty by 2030, and equally important, we wished to consult you in identifying the topics that were most pressing and urgent.

We collected your feedback through an online survey where we received 151 responses from participants from around the world representing practitioners, advocates and support organizations, funders, investors, policymakers, and regulators. We also conducted phone interviews with 27 leaders in the microfinance and financial inclusion sectors. Below are some key findings from our Listening Tour calls and survey.

A client of Fundacíon Capital wiht her daughter Photo credit: Fundacíon Capital

A client of Fundacíon Capital wiht her daughter

Photo credit: Fundacíon Capital

1. Ending extreme poverty.

Our members believe that our main objective should be to end extreme poverty, but they acknowledge that microfinance and financial inclusion actors need to be mobilized around this objective. We need to take a leadership role in re-focusing the microfinance sector on a pro-poor mission and helping the microfinance community build confidence in a system that protects and benefits those who we serve. In order to accomplish this, we need to galvanize new visionaries and champions for the movement.

2. Universal financial access, financial inclusion, and ending extreme poverty.

The strategy for achieving both universal financial access by 2020 and the 2030 goal must be clear, and clear linkages should be created between these two goals. In addition, we need to clarify the definition of financial inclusion, especially in how it relates to ending extreme poverty. We cannot get to full financial inclusion unless inclusive financial systems are created that serve the extreme poor.

3. Defining roles.

It’s unclear what role each stakeholder plays in achieving these goals. Our challenge is to create a unified voice in support of this agenda among a diverse group of microfinance stakeholders, who sometimes have divergent priorities. How do we design a strategy and create a sense of responsibility to provide the appropriate products and services that help people move out of poverty?

4. Pushing innovation while maintaining client protection.

Innovation is key, and technology will need play an important role in reaching full financial inclusion. The microfinance community tends to copy successful ideas but hesitates when it comes to new methodologies. While we need to do away with this risk-averse culture when it comes to innovation, we need to make sure there is adequate regulation and client protection practices in place where our clients could be vulnerable.

Organizations that made a Campaign Commitment are recognized on stage at the 17th Microcredit Summit in Mexico.

Organizations that made a Campaign Commitment are recognized on stage at the 17th Microcredit Summit in Mexico.

5. Financial inclusion to end extreme poverty: six pathways.

Finally, we saw an emphasis on six topics that we have framed as our “pathways out of poverty;” these are financial inclusion strategies that reach people living in extreme poverty and facilitates their movement out of poverty:

  • Mobile money linked with agent networks in low-income communities (for example)
  • Agricultural value chains that reach to small scale producers (for example)
  • Savings groups (aka village savings and loans associations) (for example)
  • Conditional cash transfers linked with mobile delivery and asset building (for example)
  • Ultra-poor graduation programs (for example)
  • Microfinance savings and/or borrowing groups linked with health education, health financing, and health product delivery (for example)
Dignitaries who attended the 1997 Microcredit Summit.

Dignitaries who attended the 1997 Microcredit Summit. From L-R: Tsutomu Hata, Former Prime Minister, Japan; H.E. Pascoal M. Mocumbi, Prime Minister, Mozambique; H.E. Alberto Fujimori, President, Peru; H.M. Queen Sofia, Spain; H.E. Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister, Bangladesh; Hillary Rodham Clinton, First Lady, United States; Prof. Muhammad Yunus, Managing Director, Grameen Bank, Bangladesh; Elizabeth de Calderón Sol, First lady, El Salvador; Ana Paula dos Santos, First Lady, Angola; H.E. Dr. Siti Hasmah, First Lady, Malaysia; H.M. Queen Fabiola, Belgium.

Let’s take a quick ride down memory lane. In February 1997, we convened the first Microcredit Summit in Washington, D.C., bringing together more than 2,900 delegates from 137 countries. This event resulted in the Declaration and Plan of Action in which Summit delegates promised to work towards making the Campaign a “global effort to restore control to people over their own lives and destinies” [1]. Since 1997, the Microcredit Summit Campaign has been leading, supporting, and guiding the microfinance field to address failures in reaching the extreme poor.

Jump forward to 2015. We still have a lot of work to do, but the will of our community to map out a better future together is evident. This is a time for change and transformation in the global development sector, and we must be bold in setting our goals.

We have taken it upon ourselves to make sure that the microfinance and financial inclusion movement is included as a tool in ending extreme poverty by 2030. Financial inclusion needs to serve the bigger purpose of helping people in poverty mitigate vulnerability, build resilience, and take advantage of opportunity. But, to reach the ambitious goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030, we need to draw a map of how to get there. We need to show how digital payments, savings groups, conditional cash transfers, agricultural value chains, and graduation programs intersect with other sectors like health, education, housing, and nutrition to build pathways out of poverty. We must map out pathways for how these different interventions, stakeholders, and initiatives can work together to achieve our shared goal.

We share responsibility for promoting microfinance and financial inclusion practices that put clients at the center and show progress toward poverty eradication. At the World Bank’s 2015 Spring Meetings, the Campaign made a commitment to support the World Bank Group’s goal to reach universal financial access by 2020 (UFA2020). Through our commitment, we have joined a global coalition of partners that includes Visa, Mandiri, the State Bank of India, the World Council of Credit Unions, WSBI, the Microfinance CEO Working Group (a group of 10 international microfinance networks), Telenor, Ooredoo, Equity Bank, and Bandhan.

We know that the hardest part of reaching UFA2020 will be to ensure that financial services reach those living in extreme poverty, and the Microcredit Summit Campaign will work with its reporting institutions to help them expand their outreach by at least 53 million of the world’s poorest families, bringing the overall total of the world’s poorest families reached by microfinance to 175 million by 2020.

UFA2020 will be a stepping stone to achieving the post-2015 development agenda, and the Campaign will document what is being done well and disseminate those lessons far and wide through the State of the Campaign Report and our Microcredit Summits. The 18th Microcredit Summit will be an opportunity to learn about these six pathways and engage in a thoughtful discussion around the role each of us plays.

We invite you to join us and take part in leading this movement; start by organizing a breakout session for the 18th Microcredit Summit and making a Campaign Commitment. Submit your breakout session proposal for the 18th Microcredit Summit, and use our platform to inform our community about what you are doing to contribute to our common mission. You can also join our own coalition of Campaign Commitment makers by announcing specific, measurable, and time-bound actions that you will take to support our goal of helping 100 million families lift themselves out of extreme poverty. This is a key step in reaching the end of extreme poverty by 2030, and by focusing on our six pathways, we can design a better future and create a map of opportunity.

Financial inclusion to end extreme poverty

Related resources

Sources

Declaration and Plan of Action. Microcredit Summit Campaign. February 1997, Washington, D.C. http://www.microcreditsummit.org/resource/58/the-microcredit-summit-declaration-plan.html

Microcredit Summit Campaign joins World Bank’s financial inclusion efforts

Global Findex database, World Bank, Washington, DC.
http://www.worldbank.org/en/programs/globalfindex

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The Microcredit Summit Campaign issued a press release today announcing our commitment to Universal Financial Access by 2020. The Campaign joins the World Bank Group and a their coalition of partners — including MasterCard, Visa, Mandiri, the State Bank of India, Equity Bank, and Bandhan — in making a commitments to accelerate universal financial access. Financial access and inclusion are stepping stones to achieving the end of extreme poverty by 2030.

The Campaign will work with its reporting institutions to help them expand their outreach by at least 53 million of the world’s poorest families, bringing the overall total of the world’s poorest families reached by microfinance to 175 million by 2020. Read the full press release.

This commitment was announced on April 17th in Washington, D.C., at the World Bank Group’s Spring Meetings.

Related resources

Measuring what’s important: client transformation

Research Results ESAF India

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Published on the Center for Financial Inclusion’s blog April 15th.

Measuring Transformation

>> Posted by Bobbi Gray, Research Director, Freedom from Hunger

While recent research indicates that access to and use of microcredit alone is not transformative for the average client served (see “Where Credit Is Due“), there has been very little discussion about the types of indicators being used to measure “transformation” in the ongoing debates. In fact, it seems that we all have accepted the general findings that microcredit has only had modest impacts on, along with other indicators of poverty and well-being, education, health, and social capital because the randomized controlled trials (RCTs) have said so. There needs to be greater thought and debate about the choices of indicators used to support these conclusions.

Freedom from Hunger over the past 20-plus years has integrated health with microfinance and helped build a body of knowledge indicating that microfinance plus health services can enhance health outcomes. In an ongoing partnership with the Microcredit Summit Campaign, supported by Johnson & Johnson, we have pilot-tested a series of health indicators that financial service providers (FSPs) can use to track client health outcomes. This pilot test was built on years of experience of evaluating health outcomes with our FSP partners, as well as on similar experiences of developing common tracking indicators in the health sector. We created a list of criteria to assess the types of indicators we felt would be meaningful to track—for individuals with and without health services – which included dimensions of feasibility, usability, and reliability. Initial results have been shared in several webinars with SEEP and the Social Performance Task Force.

It’s important to note that this pilot test effort was not about “proving” impact, but rather developing common techniques for monitoring client outcomes that FSPs could use over time. However, this experience has shown how difficult it is to identify indicators that best measure certain health outcomes. What initially might appear as an intuitive indicator to use — for example, how often a person reports being ill or seeking medical treatment — is found to be more difficult than expected. Morbidity — or reports of illness — is not an easy measure for health sector actors or those who directly work to improve health outcomes because it is influenced by the seasons, by specific efforts, and other factors, so care has to be taken when interpreting results. Reports of seeking medical treatment are complicated by whether people are satisfied with the services they can seek and may not always reflect financial capability but preferences or lack of available health services.

Read the rest of the article

Relevant resources

#tbt: Microfinance as a Platform for Health Education

KNOWLEDGE ABOUT HIV VIRUS

Knowledge about HIV

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We are pleased to bring you this #ThursdayThrowback blog post, which was originally published in The State of the Microcredit Summit Campaign Report 2011.


Microfinance as a Platform for Health Education

>>Authored by D.S.K. Rao, Regional Director; and Anna Awimbo

<img class="size-thumbnail wp-image-4303" src="https://mcsummit.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/momf.jpg?w=150" alt="April is the Month of Microfinance
Learn more” width=”150″ height=”150″ />
April is the Month of Microfinance
Learn more

The Microcredit Summit Campaign launched its Financing Healthier Lives Project in 2002. The project aims to build a global group of microfinance institutions capable of providing health education trainings to their clients in a sustainable manner and reach over half a million clients affecting some 2.5 million family members.

In March 2009, the Campaign released an updated version of its report outlining how microfinance can be used as a platform for health education. This strategy has proven effective at enhancing clients’ movement out of poverty, especially in situations where microfinance alone is insufficient. The document, titled Financing Healthier Lives, makes the case for a global expansion in the use of microfinance as a platform for health education and other health services.

Much of the initial work on this project has been centered in South India where The Campaign has trained in-country trainers and partnered with four organizations to reach more than 30,000 microfinance clients with health education. The four organizations are Star Microfin Service Society (SMSS), People’s Multipurpose Development Society (PMD), Pioneer Trad and McLevy Institute of Development Services (MIDS). SMSS is an MFI operating in Andhra Pradesh, whereas the remaining three are NGOs based in Tamil Nadu. The clients have received education in the following six topics in their local language 1) HIV and AIDS prevention; 2) Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses (IMCI); 3) Women’s Health; 4) Infant and Child Feeding; 5) Healthy Habits and Planning for Better Health and Using Health Care Services; and 6) Malaria Prevention and Treatment.

In early 2010, the Campaign expanded its work to North India, where it is working with CASHPOR Microfinance to implement a pilot project covering 9,000 clients with education in IMCI and Women’s Health. Encouraged by the extremely positive feedback from its field workers and clients, CASHPOR is planning to triple its outreach to 30,000 clients.

The following graphs illustrate the Campaign’s findings from the work in India and demonstrate that important client-level outcomes are achieved when MFIs integrate health education. For example, data showed improved knowledge of malaria and HIV and AIDS as well as positive behavior change to mitigate the risks associated with these illnesses. Similar positive results were shown with respect to pre- and post-natal medical check-ups of pregnant women. Clients have also shown improved confidence in preparing for future health expenses [1].

Knowledge about HIV

KNOWLEDGE ABOUT HIV VIRUS

Knowledge about critical danger signs in children

figure2_danger signs

A team of UCLA Executive MBA students recently evaluated this project and published a 2010 report that recommended expansion of the initiative because of its benefits to clients and the partner institutions. The report also underscored the need to deepen its work on measuring knowledge gains and behavioral changes in clients and their families. The Campaign has begun laying the groundwork for a more in-depth study of these changes and hopes the additional data will go a long way in convincing many more MFIs worldwide to introduce and scale up health integration.


Source: Financing Healthier Lives, Microcredit Summit Campaign, 2009.

[1] The project’s independent third-party evaluators randomly surveyed 400 members from all project participants across all four organizations. The selected members were given a questionnaire prior to and at the conclusion of both the HIV and AIDS and IMCI education modules. Incomplete or illegible surveys were excluded from the final tally.

Exploring the potential of low-income women in Pakistan

Photo Credit: Kashf Foundation

Photo Credit: Kashf Foundation

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Pathway

Microfinance savings and/or borrowing groups linked with
health education, health financing, and health product delivery


>>Authored by Roshaneh Zafar, Executive Director, Kashf Foundation

April is the Month of MicrofinanceLearn more

April is the Month of Microfinance
Learn more

Last year, Kashf Foundation made a Campaign Commitment to increase the number of persons from low-income communities who were accessing health insurance to 100,000, and Kashf surpassed this target by nearly one-third. At the end of 2014, Kashf was able to cover 129,000 women, men, and children from poor households with health insurance.

“Upon reaching the hospital, I looked hesitantly at my daughter, but seeing her face full of pain and agony, I realized I had to be brave for her. The hospital was the biggest I had ever seen, and I was sure that the doctors would not even consider treating my daughter. But, as soon as I showed them my insurance card, not only was I treated with the utmost respect, they arranged the best possible care for my daughter without taking a single penny from me.” — Noshaba

Noshaba with daughter Rabia Farooq-Kashf health insurance client

Noshaba with daughter Rabia Farooq; Kashf health insurance clients
Photo Credit: Kashf Foundation

Noshaba and her daughter belong to one of those Kashf families who have been able to access high quality healthcare as result of the Kashf Micro-health Insurance product. Kashf’s innovative product provides health insurance coverage to the entire household up to Rs. 30,000 of in-patient expenses for every member of the household! Kashf’s health insurance also covers maternity benefits and provides clients with a work-compensation settlement if either of the main breadwinners for the household is hospitalized.

During 2014, Kashf worked with the health insurance company to organize 15 health camps and 17 out-patient sessions in low-income communities to create awareness about identification and prevention of disease. Through their insurance, low-income households also have access to a tele-health helpline where they can call to discuss medical problems and symptoms.

Client-centered product design

Kashf Foundation committed in 2014 to make data-driven decisions, using meta-data trends to optimize products and services to meet clients’ needs and to increase the impact of Kashf on the lives of clients. To this end, Kashf engaged with the Centre for Research in Economics and Business for a randomized control trial (RCT) and has collected the baseline data for 990 clients. These clients will be re-evaluated in August 2015 and the end line report will be available by the end of 2015.

Kashf also committed to create credit products aligned to the specific cash-flow needs of the most popular women-led micro-businesses. In the last year, Kashf has undertaken the research and development on these products and tested some prototypes. Kashf will be working throughout 2015 on improving these prototypes and streamlining and optimizing the processes further along with contextualizing its products and services to better service the clients.

Photo Credit: Kashf Foundation

Photo Credit: Kashf Foundation

Building client capacity

Kashf understands the equal importance of building the capacity of women entrepreneurs to take more informed and confident decisions. To this end, Kashf has invested in the training and development of low-income women entrepreneurs, having trained more than 600,000 females in financial education and literacy by December 2013.

As part of their 2014 Commitment, Kashf Foundation trained an additional 200,000 women in financial education, bringing the cumulative outreach of Kashf’s Financial Education program to over 800,000 women.

Kashf’s financial education trainings use adult teaching methods to equip female participants with the required skills and tools through story-telling, games, and experiential learning. Improved financial literacy has helped women entrepreneurs to understand their saving situations better, save more, and attain higher economic status and more economic security.

Photo Credit: Kashf Foundation

Photo Credit: Kashf Foundation

Kashf has made continuous efforts to promote the business case for investing in low-income households, and especially in women, and in addressing the issue of access to training opportunities and promoting quality trainings. Kashf is focusing in 2015 on providing vocational skills training to 760 women of rural and marginalized population of Lahore on three trades — domestic tailoring, Ada work, and beautician — and establishing their linkages with the market to support their income generation through entrepreneurship development.

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