Winners of the 2015 AGFUND International Prize announced

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Abu Dhabi, UAE: His Royal Highness Prince Abdulaziz bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, His Highness Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, UAE, and Her Majesty Queen Sofia of Spain honoured winners of the 2016 AGFUND International Prize for Pioneering Development Projects at a grand award ceremony held last evening in Abu Dhabi.

The event was held as part of closing ceremony of the 18th edition of the Microcredit Summit, which was held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council. It was attended by His Excellency Hussain Al Nowais, Chairman of Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development, Nasser Bakr al-Kahtani, CEO of AGFUND, high level government officials, representatives of the local and international organisations, development experts, diplomats and media representatives.

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Swedes, chimps, and you and me on sustainable development

Hans Rosling shows how the child mortality rate declined at a phenomenal rate across the globe between 1964 and 2012.

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>>Authored by Sabina Rogers

Earlier this year at the World Economic Forum (WEF), Hans Rosling opened his presentation, “Sustainable Development: Demystifying the Facts,” with three questions for the audience about the state of global development (about extreme poverty, measles vaccination, and population in 2100). He was testing their knowledge in order to illustrate how preconceived ideas will do us wrong.

He had done this test before. Rosling conducted studies with Swedes, Americans, and chimps about the state of global development. The chimps were asked to choose a banana that is associated with 1 of 3 possible answers, and they got the answer correct 33 percent of the time. In essence, they were bound to be right 1 time in 3; the humans were not as lucky. Basically, according to his study, chimps in a zoo have a better chance of choosing the right answers at random to questions about the state of the world than the average Swede and American does.

It is detrimental when we underestimate the progress that has been made just in the last 15 years. In 1964 (the date he starts with his child mortality chart), the world was clearly divided into two worlds: the developing world with large families and high child mortality and the developed world with the opposite. Today, there really is just one world, with a few outlying countries, mainly in Africa.

It’s also a world of inequality within countries. Take India, for example. “If someone comes from outer space and wants to see the world,” says Rosling, “and [they] have only one day to visit, they should go to India. Because they can see everything in India: the most fantastic success [and] progress being made, but also remote, rural areas where still, extreme poverty is rampant — but decreasing.”

This is where the post-2015 agenda has to focus the world’s energy and money: the still marginalized, the remote and hard-to-reach areas. This is why we at the Microcredit Summit Campaign are championing six financial inclusion strategies (our “six pathways“) that we believe hold the greatest promise in helping to end extreme poverty at the frontiers — at the margins of society in economic, social, and geographic terms. The six pathways offer a means to reduce the cost of delivery (mobile money), help the poor build assets (cash transfers linked with savings), tackle the challenge of a weak health infrastructure, and more.

But, this isn’t just about practitioners and donors. With the launch of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, we are seeing a massive media campaign targeted at you and me. It is a media campaign designed to get people excited and believe in the possibility of achieving the SDGs. Each goal has been reworded to express greatly simplified concepts. No numbers. No percentage signs. Just simple framing: No poverty, no hunger, good health, and so on.

It is also is designed to put “we the people” in the driver’s seat of this “next generation” of development. This is good because we are going to need everyone behind this agenda to fund it and traditional “aid” funding will not suffice. Tax revenue must contribute to the estimated $172.5 trillion price tag (over 15 years). The MDGs cost $915 billion in total. That’s $114 billion per goal compared to more than $10 trillion per goal for our post-2015 agenda.

In an interview on NPR’s Goats and Soda blog, Paul O’Brien of Oxfam America said, “It’s not just about more aid and donors doing more. This is going to be about sustained political will by governments to use their own money to tax corporations more effectively and make sure the money from their natural resources goes to poverty reduction.” This is the same conclusion in Who Pays for Progress?, a report from RESULTS UK about how to finance healthcare in new middle income countries. And, we can only do this if we understand what Rosling is trying to show us with his charts: “We can make the world much better. The long-term trend is going in the right direction.”

I would add, don’t underestimate what a world united by a set of global goals can achieve.

Watch Hans Rosling’s presentation at the World Economic Forum

Here is Rosling’s first question for WEF attendees:

In the last 20 years, the proportion of people living in extreme poverty has…? A. almost doubled, B. remained more or less the same, C. almost halved.

The answer was C (though the numbers of extreme poor may not have decreased in absolute terms). How many got it right? 61 percent of respondents from the WEF were right; in an online survey he conducted, 23 percent from Sweden and 5 percent from the US answered C.

How many of the world’s one-year-old children are vaccinated against measles? A. 2 in 10, B. 5 in 10, C. 8 in 10.

Again, the answer was C, and 23 percent of WEF got it, 8 percent of Swedes, and 17 percent of Americans.

How many children will there be in the world in 2100? A. almost 4 billion, B. 3 billion, C. 2 billion (with no increase from 2000).

26 percent of the WEF audience answered the correct answer, C, 11 percent of Swedes, and 7 percent of Americans. Rosling’s chimps surveyed answered correctly 33 percent of the time.

What does this mean? When you answer worse than random, it means that the problem is not lack of knowledge, the problem is that you carry preconceived ideas, which makes your score worse than chimps.

The whole point of this exercise queued up his presentation (starting at 6:33) on the state of child mortality between 1964 and 2012 (hint: the vast majority of countries are doing amazingly well). He showed how child mortality today in Bangladesh (8:52) is better than the state of child mortality in Italy in 1964 and that even the worst off families (women with absolutely no education) are, today, where the better-off and most-educated Bangladeshis were in 2001.

Hans Rosling shows why the concept of “developing countries” (those with less than US$12,000 per capita) doesn’t have much meaning anymore — for a happy reason. We have great reason to be optimistic about ending extreme poverty by 2030.

The main reason for optimism is the evidence of the past…the long term trend is going in the right direction.

4 interventions to help victims of trauma find hope and dignity

Josh Goldstein_keynote speech

Josh Goldstein (CFI) gives a keynote speech at the 8th Annual PCAF Pan-African Psychotrauma Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, a multidisciplinary event that focuses on psychological trauma in Africa’s war-affected societies. Photo: Josh Goldstein

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The Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion has made a Campaign Commitment to bring greater attention to the issue of aging and financial services and further support the inclusion of those with disabilities. Learn how you can join the global coalition of organizations working to help 100 million families lift themselves out of extreme poverty.

Read the full text of Josh Goldstein’s keynote speech.


>>Josh Goldstein, Vice President, Economic Citizenship & Disability Inclusion, The Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion

“Over a sixth of the world’s population has directly experienced armed conflict, torture, terrorism, sexual and gender-based violence, ethnic cleansing or genocide.”
— The Peter C. Alderman Foundation (PCAF) website

I recently attended the 8th Annual PCAF Pan-African Psychotrauma Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, a multidisciplinary event that focuses on psychological trauma in Africa’s war-affected societies. PCAF operates mental health clinics in Cambodia, Kenya, Liberia, and Uganda and conducts trainings for mental health professionals. At the conference,I was surrounded by global leaders from health care, academia, and a litany of organizations working in the mental health space.

At first blush, my placement at such an event might seem odd as my work focuses on disability inclusion for microfinance. But, I’d argue that’s more of a reflection of how society, and our industry, views mental disabilities — with reductive biases — rather than how they fit within microfinance.

I had the privilege of presenting a keynote to the attendees. I discussed whether it’s possible for trauma patients who have gone through a successful course treatment that includes counseling, medication, and livelihood trainings to become clients of microfinance institutions (MFI) and build small-sized enterprises. Immediately below is an abridged version of my speech, with the complete text linked at the end.

Can MFIs help victims of trauma find hope and dignity through self-employment?

Josh Goldstein_keynote speech_portAs a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) survivor myself from the U.S., who received treatment, I believe with all my heart that in a just society poor people with mental health challenges should get the help they need so they can flourish as human beings. Unfortunately, in the international development world I come from, this great cause is barely on the radar — in spite of the fact that reaching the most destitute is at the urgent core of all international development work. Indeed, I share your outrage at the paucity of funding and support for community mental health from governments and foundations.

But, why self-employment for those with mental health issues like PTSD? Why not go find a job and work for a business that provides a regular paycheck? Isn’t that easier and more secure? Of course it is. Most clients of MFIs are what we call “necessity entrepreneurs” and would rather have such jobs than start their own businesses. But, the sobering reality of limited formal sector employment opportunities across Africa makes finding such jobs for persons with physical disabilities, let alone psychosocial disabilities, even more challenging than it would be otherwise. Even in my country, the United States, unemployment of persons with disabilities in the formal workplace remains unconscionably high.

But are such financial products like credit or savings a good idea for someone with PTSD? For example, would the effort to save or borrow money bring greater stress? There is no easy answer based on my cursory review of the very limited research studies to date — the results are ambiguous and prove nothing conclusive one way or the other. What we do know, thanks to PCAF Uganda Program Director Dorothy Kizza, is that relapsing back into mental illness is often caused by a lack of employment. So, on balance, the stress of not working may be equally or more stressful than paying back a working capital loan which at least holds the promise of a more hopeful future. My own hunch is that the answer will only be decided on a case-by-case basis and so no generalization is really possible.

What seems beyond doubt, as Crick Lund, a professor at the University of South Africa and CEO of PRIME, a consortium of research institutions and ministries of health, has written, “is [the] growing international evidence that mental ill health and poverty interact in a negative cycle. This cycle increases the risk of mental illness among people who live in poverty and increases the likelihood that those living with mental illness will drift into or remain in poverty.” A big-picture study from the Harvard School of Public Health and the World Economic Forum estimates that the cumulative global impact of mental disorders in terms of lost economic output will amount to US$16.3 trillion between 2011 and 2030.

I am happy to say that the Center for Financial Inclusion (CFI) and its allied partners working on disability inclusion have begun to demonstrate significant success in including persons with physical disabilities in microfinance in Bangladesh, Ecuador, India, Nigeria, Paraguay, and Uganda, and I hope we can expand this initiative to include persons with mental health issues.

However, achieving the progress needed to financially include people with physical disabilities is not the same as that of including people with mental health issues. Persons with psychosocial disabilities in Africa and in many other places in the world are, in the words of Nigerian healthcare advocate Ifesinanchi Sam-Emurwa, “doubly stigmatized” for having a disability and for that disability being a mental one.

And, to paraphrase remarks by Columbia University psychiatrist Dr. Evaristo Akerele, who spoke this past June at the only mental health session on psychosocial disabilities at the U.N. Conference of State Parties annual disability conference: The person with mental health issues is blamed for bringing what psychiatrists call depression, or anxiety, on themselves. Beliefs such as that God is upset with them, that drug use is to blame, that witchcraft is at work, are all common. In most places, the term “depression” is not culturally acceptable or even understood; there is not an accepted and shared nomenclature for describing mental suffering.

An interesting example of how this “double stigma” plays out also comes from Nigeria, in the financial services arena. The Central Bank of Nigeria recently earmarked US$20 million to financial service providers to make loans to persons with disabilities — a great step forward. But, it explicitly excluded persons with mental health disabilities as recipients of these loans.

So, what can be done to improve the situation? I want to suggest five of the biggest challenges we face and interventions that I believe we can undertake together to answer these challenges and improve the livelihood possibilities of persons with psychosocial disabilities. I hope this will form the beginning of an action plan.

Challenge 1: How can the staff of an MFI with no training in psychology even begin to identify clients with mental health issues if there are no common, agreed on terms of reference for describing distressed states of mind? How do we sensitize staff to work with this client segment?

It is relatively easy to determine a baseline of the numbers of persons with physical disabilities who are clients, by asking medically non-invasive questions (or just through observation) about their state of wellness. Unless a person with mental health issues self-discloses, it is impossible to know if they are suffering from a depressive, anxiety, or other disorder.

Intervention: Volunteers from the mental disability space, like attendees of these annual PCAF Conferences,can help financial service providers design survey questions that allow MFI staff to get a better count of current clients with mental health issues. These volunteers along with PTSD survivors themselves can help sensitize MFI staff on how to best reach out to persons with mental health disabilities. They can connect MFIs with community mental health leaders and, in particular, patient advocates. These learnings can then be incorporated into the Framework for Disability Inclusion so that a set of best practices can be developed and shared with MFIs from around the world.

Challenge 2: Access and support for basic capital and business training for persons with psychosocial disabilities is largely lacking.

Intervention: Connect PCAF graduates, and those of other mental health clinics that include business training, to microfinance providers, credit unions, self-help savings groups, and otherproviders offering group-based financial services as well as enterprise-building support to professionalize the business training and operations of the clinic patients. The natural intermediary to make first contact with the MFI or other provider might be the PCAF social worker, during their weekly or monthly follow up outreach to former PCAF patients in their villages, homes,and workplaces.

Just as CFI identified two or three institutions in India that were eager to do a pilot to include persons with disabilities in their programs, we can work to identify two or three MFIs in the PCAF countries of Cambodia, Kenya, Liberia, and Uganda who want to be leaders in including persons with psychosocial disabilities in credit and/or savings groups. Success is promising here since a portion of PCAF livelihood trainings are done in groups,suggesting that the transition to group lending methodologies could prove to be quite natural and comfortable.

Challenge 3: The United Nations (U.N.) does not do enough to recognize the importance of mental health disabilities — when it comes to collecting good statistics, when it comes to prioritizing it as a Sustainable Development Goal to reduce extreme poverty, when it comes to seeing therapeutic intervention as a significant part of the Constitution on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities treaty.

Intervention: Those working in this field and other interested parties should lobby the Washington Group on Disability Statistics (the U.N. body charged with disability statistics) to include a specific question on mental health in its so-called “short set” of questions that it provides to governments that do censuses and disability surveys. Similarly, while they’re still being shaped, pressure should be applied to modify the Sustainable Development Goals to include much stronger language on mental health.

Finally, there must be concerted lobbying by PCAF, and others, to ensure that in implementing the articles of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the right to receive treatment for mental health ills gets equal billing with assuring the right to vote and enjoy equal protection before the law. If this does not happen, it will be much harder for mental health practitioners to obtain funding from governments and foundations to expand their community mental health programs — something critically important in countries like Burundi that have only one psychiatrist in the whole country!

Challenge 4: To create a new set of global standards and indicators for microfinance institutions and other financial service providers to follow that will establish the importance of and offer guidance on serving PTSD survivors and other persons with psychosocial disabilities.

Intervention: The CFI will work collaboratively to push the microfinance industry-wide standard-setters to add mental health indicators. With the help of key industry standard-setting groups, I believe that we can help to break down the attitudinal barriers that keep persons with psychosocial disabilities in extreme poverty unbanked and stigmatized. For example, I am delighted to announce that the Poverty Stoplight has offered to take the lead in creating a mental health indicator for its assessment tool. The Poverty Stoplight set of indicators, pioneered by Fundación Paraguaya and now used around the world, sees poverty as multidimensional and have developed a tool that allows the poor to measure their own poverty, broken down into different categories. Adding a mental health indicator could be a source of data that could be used not only by MFIs but by local community mental health leaders and other public health providers.

Freedom from Hunger in conjunction with the Microcredit Summit Campaign has just published a new guide called “Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: How Microfinance Can Track the Health of Clients,” in which they share experiences in selecting and pilot-testing health indicators among four MFIs. The researchers asked questions around six health indicators: food security and nutrition, preventive health care, poverty, curative health care, sanitation and safe water, and attitudes. The results demonstrated the added value of health indicators when combined with poverty measurement in helping MFIs understand client well-being. Their “theory of change” is that with greater financial resources, the clients will be able to meet their essential needs as outlined above — like having cleaning water or improved nutrition. I have consulted with the guide’s author, Bobbi Gray, and she is very willing to work with us to see if we can help her develop a seventh indicator around mental health — which is great news.

My conclusion is that self-employment can offer dignity and hope to persons recovering from mental illness. And, that like persons with physical disabilities, many can make excellent clients. I think it is worth exploring how we can do more to connect to PTSD survivors with MFIs and other financial service providers to open their doors to PCAF clients and those of other clinics. At the very least, this initiative will help fight stigma and bring down attitudinal barriers. Let us see what works and what sticks. It is certainly worth a try.

Read the full text of Josh Goldstein’s keynote speech.


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Getting the ultra-poor on the “economy train”

BRAC group meeting

BRAC group meeting

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>>Authored by Yanira Garcia and Sabina Rogers of the Microcredit Summit Campaign

More than one-fifth of the world’s population lives on less than US$1.25 per day (the “extreme poor”), and most of those people live in rural areas. Due mostly to geographic constraints, it is difficult and costly to reach this population with financial and social services. Having poor infrastructure and few tools, they are stuck in a perpetual cycle of poverty.

This is a problem just begging for a solution. How about six financial inclusion strategies — our “six pathways” — that show promise in ending extreme poverty? Specifically, how about BRAC’s Graduation Approach? In 2002, BRAC set out to help the ultra-poor living on less than 80 cents a day to move up one level of poverty and to develop an approach that could tackle the geography obstacle. (Read Shameran Abed’s blog post to learn how BRAC developed Graduation Approach.)

Exciting results from impact assessments

In June, Science magazine published the results of six randomized controlled trial (RCT) impact assessments of BRAC’s Graduation Approach. The RCTs were conducted in Ethiopia, Ghana, Honduras, India, Pakistan, and Peru among 7000 households and provided the following complementary approaches:

  • Productive assets
  • Training and regular coaching and household visits
  • Access to savings and health services
  • Consumption support

At a half-day event in June at the World Bank, “Creating Sustainable Livelihoods for the Poorest,” the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), and J-PAL disclosed results from these six RCTs.

The RCTs showed that the Graduation Approach is a cost-effective, clear pathway out of poverty. Specifically, attendees learned that it can help drive a sustainable transition to self-employment and ultimately have large lasting impacts on the standard of living of the ultra-poor. “There will be growth in the economy,” stated Esther Duflo, “and the ultra-poor are not on the [economy] ‘train’ and would never get on the train [without help]…The Graduation Approach would push them onto the train.” (Dr. Duflo is co-director of J-Pal and professor of economics at MIT.)

Eligible households were identified through a participatory wealth ranking process as well as through household visits. On average, participant households had higher incomes, increased savings, greater food security, and improved health and happiness. These effects were consistent across multiple contexts and implementing partners.

Additional outcomes from the study include the following:

  • Daily consumption was not negatively affected over time in the selected sites after the program had ended. The authors suggest increased consumption is a result of increasing self-employment activity.
  • Household members were able to afford two meals per day more often.
  • Households continued to increase their productive assets (most in the form of livestock) as well as their savings after the program had ended, with the exception of Honduras. (Participating households in Honduras suffered an unexpected illness that killed all of the chickens, causing the study to be incomplete.)
  • In Bangladesh, where women were targeted, land ownership increased by 38 percent.

The Graduation Approach had the largest impact on ultra-poor households in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, and India. Researchers suggest that income diversification may have been a leading factor. In addition, cost-benefit calculations confirm that long-run benefits for the ultra-poor outweigh the graduation program’s overall cost.

Policy lessons for scale-up and replication

The RCTs also provide us with important policy lessons for scale-up:

  • For the Graduation Approach to have a lasting impact on ending extreme poverty, the support and action of governments and policymakers is essential.
  • It is possible to make sustainable improvements in the economic status of the poor with a relatively short-term intervention.
  • The positive results to date indicate that this approach can have a profound impact on improving the lives of the world’s ultra-poor.

Scale-up of the Graduation Approach is underway and will reach thousands of households in the coming years. Mariana Escobar, deputy director general for the Department for Social Prosperity in Colombia, spoke about Colombia’s pilot that started two years ago.

In Colombia, the Graduation Approach has helped repair the lives of the victims of the internal conflict and victims of sexual violence. Ms. Escobar explained that these results demonstrate to policymakers and governments that the extreme poor can make good economic decisions when they are given the right tools.

Edgar Leiva (Secretary of Technical Planning, Directory of Public Policies for Paraguay), Hugo Zertuche Guerrero (Director General of Geostatistical Information of PROSPERA in Mexico), Camilla Holmeno (Senior Economist with the World Bank in Ethiopia), and Fiona Howell (Senior Social Assistance Policy Advisor with the National Team For the Acceleration of Poverty Reduction in Indonesia) shared their respective country’s perspective on the Graduation Approach. On a scale of low to high, policymakers were asked to answer the questions below.

Q: How high was the impact evidence to decide to start a program in your respective country?

A: All of the policymakers answered “high.”

Q: How influential was visiting the site and seeing it in person to starting a program?

A: All of the policymakers answered “high.” Edgar Leiva (Paraguay) explained that his government started a pilot program two days after visiting Colombia’s pilot program.

Q: What was each country’s biggest challenge in implementing the program?

A:

  • Camilla Holmeno (Ethiopia): both cost and complexity.
  • Edgar Leiva (Paraguay): maintaining the positive attitude of workers in the program, which helps create a sort of magic and is so important to the success of the program.
  • Hugo Zertuche (Mexico): budget constraints due to recent decrease in oil prices as well as cross-program competition (and a perception that Zertuche’s program was poaching resources from other programs).
  • Fiona Howell (Indonesia): existing structures and system and coordination among the Ministries.

Q: What is the number one research question you would like to know the answer to?

A:

  • Camilla Holmeno (Ethiopia): test different types of packages with varying levels of transfer across Ethiopia.
  • Edgar Leiva (Paraguay): how closely tied the Graduation Approach is to the psychology of people.
  • Fiona Howell (Indonesia): how we can integrate the urbanized poor into the economic system.

Additional questions for future research were posed in the closing section of the event:

  • Which components of the Graduation Approach drive results? Through this study, CGAP and Ford Foundation learned that household visits allotted for 30 percent of the cost of the program. Are household visits necessary?
  • How do the impacts of the Graduation Approach evolve over a longer time span?

Watch the event recording

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Event Recap: Partnerships to End Poverty Workshop

RESULTS grassroots activists discuss the policy implications of the six pathways that were presented by the Microcredit Summit Campaign. It’s now their turn as RESULTS volunteers to decide what to do with that information. Learn how you can join RESULTS.

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On Sunday, July 19th, the Microcredit Summit Campaign hosted a standing-room-only workshop with attendees to the 2015 RESULTS International Conference. Those who came heard from leading voices on the future of financial inclusion, focusing on the crucial role of partnerships and advocacy in reaching the poorest.

Larry Reed, director of the Microcredit Summit Campaign, began the session by introducing the Campaign’s role in pushing for an understanding that achieving full financial inclusion means including those living in extreme poverty.

From the start, the Microcredit Summit Campaign has advocated scaling up microfinance and other financial inclusion interventions. They can provide those living in extreme poverty with the diverse array of financial and non-financial services that will support their journey out of poverty.

Reed spoke about the need for continued innovation in client-centered development of financial tools, creative ideas for reaching the hard-to-reach at affordable prices, and the promise that smart microfinance can help create positive and durable changes in the lives of those being served.

Six Pathways

Read more about the six pathways.

The Campaign is advocating for closer consideration of six financial inclusion strategies — our “six pathways” — that show promise in reaching people living in extreme poverty with needed products and services. These are the six pathways:

  1. Integrated health and microfinance
  2. Savings groups
  3. Graduation programs
  4. Financial technology
  5. Agricultural value chains
  6. Conditional cash transfers

In the discussion that followed, moderated by Sonja Kelly (fellow at the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion), the panelists responded to questions about the importance of partnerships in achieving the goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030 and the role, present and future, of microfinance and financial inclusion in supporting these efforts.

DSK Rao, regional director for Asia-Pacific at the Campaign, focused on the immense potential for integration of health education and services into the delivery model of microfinance. He explained that “microfinance institutions shouldn’t run hospitals, but should spread essential health information and services to their clients when needed.”

Rao explained that the presence of MFIs, with their deep penetration into hard-to-reach communities, offer important opportunities to also deliver valuable health services (both financial and non-financial) to families often excluded from more mainstream service channels.

Larry Reed discussion possible advocacy options RESULTS’ citizen activists could take to policy makers in the coming days and months.

Reed also expanded on the power of government partnerships — specifically through conditional cash transfer and graduation programs — to reach those living further down the poverty ladder than those included in other social protection program designs.

Another guest speaker in the workshop, Olumide Elegbe from FHI 360, has extensive experience designing long-term partnerships between the government, nonprofit, and private sectors. He explained that “successful development is cross-sectoral and integrated,” much like poverty itself.

The mission of RESULTS and RESULTS Educational Fund, the parent organization of the Microcredit Summit Campaign, is to end the worst aspects of hunger and poverty. The annual International Conference aims to empower their grassroots activists from around the world to become strong and knowledgeable advocates for issues related to the RESULTS mission.

Therefore, after the panel discussion, workshop participants broke into small groups to take the discussion into brainstorming advocacy actions that can promote the kinds of financial inclusion interventions that will help end extreme poverty. These small group discussions focused on tangible points of action both for the longer term future as well as in anticipation of their meetings with representatives on Capitol Hill and at the World Bank on Tuesday, July 21st.

Voice your opinion in our comments section. How can you advocate for financial inclusion?

Learn more

Become a citizen advocate!

The Microcredit Summit Campaign’s role at RESULTS is to lift up microfinance solutions designed for the world’s extreme poor, creating economic opportunities to help lift themselves out of poverty.

The Campaign hosted a standing-room-only workshop with attendees to the 2015 RESULTS International Conference who came to hear from leading voices on the future of financial inclusion and the crucial role of partnerships and advocacy in reaching the poorest. Read RESULTS’ annual report today!


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E-Workshop Recap: Helping Clients to Prepare for their Old Age

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On June 9th, the Microcredit Summit Campaign co-hosted with the Center for Financial Inclusion (CFI) an E-Workshop focusing on financial inclusion for the elderly. This is part of their 2014 Campaign Commitment to bring greater attention to the issue of aging and financial services and to further support the inclusion of those with disabilities. HelpAge International and Micro Pension Foundation helped make it a great discussion about opportunities for organizations (specifically microfinance institutions) to help clients prepare for their old age. The conversation looked both at the supply and demand sides of financial inclusion to better understand what is happening in clients’ lives and how best to approach these issues.

Watch the session recording:

Review the panelists’ slides:

Recap of the E-Workshop

Sonja Kelly from CFI introduced the focus of the session:

“Financial services needs change throughout the lifecycle, and if a client of microfinance services reaches their old age without having developed a plan to meeting their expense needs, it will be too late. Almost all participants in our webinar reported that they knew someone who had inadequately prepared for their older age. This common issue is one that microfinance can help to address by developing longer term savings products and pensions either in-house or through partnerships.”

Eppu Mikkonen-Jeanneret, head of policy at HelpAge International, began the discussion introducing the shift in populations and subsequently labor markets, noting that there are currently about 800 million people who are over 60 around the world. In 15 years, there will be over 1.3 billion people over the age of 60, of which 60 percent will live in low- and middle-income countries.

The common perception is that the 60 percent in low- and middle-income countries either will not save for their old age or lack the capacity to do so. However, the Global Findex report, which looks at the demand side data of financial inclusion, shows otherwise. According to the report, almost 25 percent of all adults say they have saved for old age in the past year — though it is predominately happening in high-income OECD countries and in East Asia and the Pacific. “Around 40 percent of adults in these two regions reported saving for old age, a far greater share than the roughly 10 percent who reported doing so in all other regions” (The Global Findex Database 2014, page 47).

Eppu explained that 18 percent of the pyramid base reported having saved for old age and 60 percent of the top. Sonja Kelly (CFI) noted that the question now is whether they are doing so in safe and secure mechanisms.

Eppu  expanded on this issue following the session, saying,
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“The world is in the middle of demographic sea change; the global population is growing older. This is a result of hugely successful development. We are healthier and better educated, we have less children and we live longer. As a result, in just 15 years the population of 60 years and over will increase from 800m to 1.3b. Far from being a developed country trend, aging is actually fastest in the low and middle income countries. Where it took the European countries over 100 years to transit to an aging population, countries like Bangladesh will do this in just a few decades. In fact, 60 percent of the 1.3 billion people will live in the developing countries.

“We know that people in developing countries continue to work into old age even though the type of work may change. Many work in the informal sector and women especially carry on providing unpaid labour at home. Yet our thinking is locked in outdated associations with people in the 60s onwards as somehow inherently, homogeneously vulnerable. It’s time we embrace the change and take action. Financial inclusion of people across the life course, facilitating social pensions, linking pensions with other financial instruments, and working closely with older women and men will help us all to adjust to the new world.”

Parul Khanna, associate director of projects for Micro Pension Foundation, continued the conversation. She noted this:

“Globally, rapid advancements in technology, telecommunications, and banking outreach have had a powerful impact on the ability of governments to deliver targeted fiscal transfers to the poor, including pension benefits to the elderly. Simultaneously, technology and telecom are reshaping financial services access and delivery, especially among low income excluded households. Most developing countries have a large young workforce, a predominantly informal labour market with modest incomes and savings capacities, a huge pension coverage gap, low banking and formal finance penetration, and limited capacity for large scale fiscal transfers.”

Parul presented their Gift-a-Pension project, which provides micropensions to low-income domestic workers, and she called on participants and readers to take action:
logo-Gap

“Can we do something for informal workers around us…[those] who touch our lives every day? Our maids, drivers, security guards or our washerwomen? Or the guy who we buy our bread from every day? Or our barbers? That seems feasible, right?

“For example, it is possible for you to imagine going home today, and spending just a few minutes with your maid or driver to tell them about the importance of saving for old age. And then spending just 10 minutes on the internet to open their own pension account for them? If your answer is yes, then you have within you the power to gift 20 years of a dignified old age to your maid or driver. And if all did this, we could collectively, as a civil society, change the lives of 40 million domestic help forever. Which, incidentally, is more than the total population of Canada.

It took India 6 years to get 3 million low-income people to start a pension account. If each of us go home today and gift a pension to just 1 excluded person in our lives, we could reach from 3 million to 43 million by this weekend!  After all, just 10 minutes of your time can change 20 years of someone else’s life. You can be the change! Try now with Gift-a-Pension.


Thank you to all panelists for contributing to this important conversation about the importance of saving for old age and how organizations can simplify the process for their clients. We also wish to thank all participants who submitted thought-provoking questions and comments to help make the session interactive!

Related resources:

Film on the micro pension model

About Gift-A-Pension


CFI 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.

#tbt: The 1997 Microcredit Summit, where it all began

#Tbt_14

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.

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We are pleased to bring you this #ThrowbackThursday blog post, which was originally published in the 1997 Microcredit Summit Report. As we explore the Six Pathways in financial inclusion to end extreme poverty, we look back at the wise words leaders from around the world had to say about ending poverty. We’ve included just a few in this blog post.


Connie Evans*, President, Women’s Self-Employment Project, Council of Practitioners

Connie Evans

Connie Evans is now the president and CEO of the Association for Enterprise Opportunity

Collectively, we represent what can be a glorious future with our voices and our vision. It is a vision for a global movement whereby poor families, especially the women in those families, are joined by practitioners, CEOs, Presidents and Parliamentarians, advocates from all disciplines and walks of life, to eradicate poverty. A global movement whereby microcredit, microfinance, and microenterprise are supported and fostered.

As practitioners, we must develop — and continue to develop — programs that directly and profoundly empower people to help themselves. We must develop and manage sophisticated data information systems so that we can strategically share best practices and avoidable mistakes. We must develop human and financial resources to sustain the best programs. We must hold accountable all those responsible for the management and administration of our governments…And, most importantly, we must incorporate our clients into decision-making positions in our institutions, our communities, and our governments…

Be renewed, be assured, have courage, and let’s all be bold. Embrace the goal of the Microcredit Summit. Speak loudly and proudly of our task to reach 100 million of the world’s poorest, especially the women, with all the tools of microenterprise…Give your voice to the vision and make your commitment to the Declaration and Plan of Action.

Fawzi al-Sultan*, President, IFAD, Co-Chair, Council of International Financial Institutions

Access to even small-scale deposit and credit services, together with other productive services, can work something close to miracles. Our experience, in a variety of conditions across the developing world, underlines that the rural poor are really bankable…

We must nonetheless keep in mind not only the benefits but also the limits of microfinance as a tool…it is not enough by itself to ensure sustainable development for the rural poor. the poor equally need access to better technologies, to health and education services, to fair markets and adequate infrastructure…

Throughout our efforts, we must make sure our work addresses the real needs and priorities of the people we want to serve. We also need to be realistic about the capacity of the microfinance providers themselves…Banking with the poor requires good management ability, especially in controlling the costs of operations and in assessing risks…

And, finally, we have to make sure the financial sector as a whole is set up to support our efforts…Interest-rate structure, monetary policy, and requirements for registration and reserves can make or break microfinance providers…

To help [the Summit’s] goal, IFAD is committed to allocating up to 30 percent of its loan portfolio, or about US$ 125 million a year, to promote financial services to the poorest…

We will integrate the microfinance strategy into our overall program planning and work with others, wherever possible to further the Summit Action Plan.

*Connie Evans is now the president and CEO of the Association for Enterprise Opportunityand Fawzi al-Sultan is now a senior partner with F&N Consultancy.

Related reading

E-Workshop Recap: Agricultural risk management with FAO and ILO

FAO Photo 2

Photo courtesy of FAO

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Last week, we had a in-depth conversation with Patricia Richter and Pranav Prashad of ILO and Emilio Hernandez of FAO about the risks and challenges facing small holder and subsitence farmers. The conversation delved into key tools and strategies for better delivering crucial, risk-reducing tools to those working in agriculture. Access the presentation.

We wanted to share some final thoughts from the presenters and also post here, as promised, links to the materials shown or referenced in the session.

FAO presenter Emilio Hernandez shared these materials for greater depth, saying:

We have a data base of training material FAO and its partners have developed for many years. It is a knowledge hub specifically for rural and agricultural finance.

In the database

Final insights from ILO impact studies in Ghana and China:

Insurance has a productive impact too, in addition to being a protective tool. In agriculture, studies in Ghana and China (my slide 2), have shown higher investments and outputs. In Ghana insured farmers increased investment in fertilizers (and better seeds) by 24% and increased cultivated area by over 15%. Similarly in China, insurance led to 27% higher investments in cross bred pigs among policy holders.

On the protective side, insured pastoralists (livestock insurance) in Kenya showed lower reliance on burdensome coping strategies such as “desperate” sales of livestock in case drought (down 29%). Similar results have been seen in case for indebtedness and keeping children in school / preventing them from working in fields when their health risks are covered through insurance.

For more on this, see http://www.impactinsurance.org/publications/rp35.

Resources from ILO include:

Additional ILO Rural Capacity Building tools:

Title of product Description Type
Empowering rural communities through financial inclusion Policy brief on financial inclusion for rural communities. Policy advise
Protecting the Poor: A Microinsurance compendium. Vol. II Contains chapters on climate change, next-generation index insurance for smallholder farmers, livestock insurance. Knowledge product
Making insurance work for microfinance institutions: a technical guide to developing microinsurancePathways towards greater impact: Better microinsurance models, products and processes for MFIs Guide for MFI managers on the design and operation of basic insurance products. Introduces fundamental insurance concepts, outlines the prerequisites needed for an MFI and describes the key features of five types of insurance products.Based on the experiences of innovative microfinance institutions (MFIs), it is clear that they can provide risk-management services that are valuable for clients and MFIs alike. The paper provides a comprehensive review of the challenges and successes of MFIs and offers ten key recommendations. Knowledge product
Financial Education: Trainers’ Manuals A series of training materials designed to teach vulnerable groups – including women and men in poverty, families with working children, youth and migrant workers – financial knowledge and management skills. Training Tool
Making Microfinance Work: Rural Microfinance A chapter and stand-alone course (in development) in the MFI management training programme “Making Microfinance Work: Managing Product Diversification” Training Tool
Village Banking and the Ledger Guide Practical tool for strengthening village banks as a means of giving poor women and men in rural and often remote areas access to financial services (savings and credit), social empowerment and a higher quality of life. Training Tool
Rural Academy: Decent Work in the Rural Economy 2-week training event with a 3-day elective on rural finance. Training Course

Disability Inclusion, in Ecuador and Around the World: An Interview with Larry Reed

Larry_Sa-Dhan_2012

This following article was originally published on the Center for Financial Inclusion blog

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This article was originally published on the CFI blog.

>>Posted by Jeffrey Riecke, Communications Associate, Center for Financial Inclusion

Last month Larry Reed, director of the Microcredit Summit Campaign, attended the International Summit of Productive Inclusion in Guayaquil, a conference focused on financial inclusion for one of the world’s most underserved populations: persons with disabilities. The event was organized by Ecuador’s Office of the Vice President, whose leadership has been seminal in advancing disability inclusion in Ecuador and around the world. I caught up with Larry to learn more about the event and the Microcredit Summit Campaign’s efforts to support persons with disabilities living in extreme poverty.

To watch the session that Larry spoke in, click here and jump to around minute 49 (Larry speaks at minute 51); the session took place in Spanish.


1. The event included diverse stakeholders and topics related to financial inclusion for persons with disabilities. Did anything in particular stand out to you?

The first thing that impressed me was just how big it was. Over 2,000 people attended the event, and it was also live-streamed. The 2,000 people were not only a diverse group in terms of sector, but also in how they related to persons with disabilities. And the interesting thing was that about half the people in the audience were either people with disabilities or caregivers for people with disabilities. The event included a fair where people could buy things made by people with disabilities. Even the food stands for lunches were all run by people with disabilities. It was an event that actually practiced what it preached.

The event aimed to further the work of Ecuador’s previous vice president on inclusion for people with disabilities and extend it into the financial sector. They’ve done a lot of work in Ecuador to get people with disabilities included. For example, there’s a law that says for any company over 25 employees, 4 percent of its employees must be people with disabilities. But, because there are not very many large companies in Ecuador, that law results in employment for only a small portion of the population that has disabilities. The government sees a need for self-employment and small businesses run by people with disabilities. And to advance that they need to have the financial sector providing services that help promote business start-up and growth.

2. You were quite active at the event, delivering several speeches and serving on multiple panels. Could you tell us about these discussions?

My role at the event was mostly to talk about what financial inclusion was doing in other parts of the world. I dealt not specifically with people with disabilities, but with efforts elsewhere that helped include previously excluded people. I tried to show how that would apply to people with disabilities.

We looked at the things the Microcredit Summit Campaign is actively promoting as financial inclusion strategies that reach people in extreme poverty and assist movement out of poverty — things like supporting agricultural value chains, linking government cash transfer programs to microfinance graduation programs or asset-building programs, technology development that reaches to the poorest, linking savings groups with the financial system through mobile payments, and so forth. I promoted activities that could be applied to people with disabilities.

The same things apply in Ecuador as in many countries where many people with disabilities live in rural areas and could earn an income through agricultural work of some type, even though they have a disability. The event featured examples of some of those types of businesses, but the big challenge is how to look at the whole value chain to make sure there’s enough value to be created — that there are markets for what people grow so that those businesses can succeed and thrive.

3. What messages did you take home with you?

The key thing to me in this whole area of including the excluded is a change of mindset. What it does to a country and to a people when they begin to see a broader definition of “we”? The spirit that was tangible at the event was the sense that, “We can do this. We can care for all our people, and we as a society are better off because we include them.” I think that’s the message we have to get out into the whole financial inclusion world. Everyone has abilities, everyone has something to contribute, and we, our economies and our societies are better off if everyone is included.

4. Disability inclusion is a severely under-addressed issue globally. How did it come to the fore in Ecuador?

This all started in the previous administration with the previous vice president, Lenin Moreno, who is paraplegic. Moreno is now the Special Envoy on Disability and Accessibility to the United Nations, heading up some of the U.N.’s work in this area, and Ecuador is sought after all over the world for advice on how to do this work.

Former Vice President Lenín Moreno surrounded by supporters and well-wishers (2013). Photo: Fernanda LeMarie - Cancillería del Ecuador.

Former Vice President Lenín Moreno surrounded by supporters and well-wishers (2013). Photo: Fernanda LeMarie – Cancillería del Ecuador.
By Ricardo Patiño [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Moreno had been a business man, and one day he went out to buy a loaf of bread and someone was robbing the store. He got shot and became paralyzed. He almost gave up, and what brought him back to feeling like life was possible for him as a paraplegic was laughter therapy. And so he has published a few books on good jokes. Out of it all he became a well-known motivational speaker, and then he was picked as the vice presidential candidate, and his party won. Moreno then led a movement to include people with physical disabilities, with himself representing the contribution that people with disabilities could make to society.

While I was there I went out for a run and noticed all the bus stops and buses are handicapped accessible. You don’t step up into the bus. They open the door, more like that of a subway, and someone with a wheelchair can roll right on.

In their disaster preparedness work, teams of survey takers went out to the rural areas – villages, everywhere — and identified where every person with a disability lived. Then in the disaster plans they included how they would locate these people and evacuate them if there is a tsunami, tornado, or earthquake.

5. Switching gears slightly, how does providing financial services to persons with disabilities fit with the Microcredit Summit Campaign’s push to ensure that vulnerable populations are not excluded from MFIs?

One of our key goals at the Campaign is to see 100 million of the world’s poorest families move out of extreme poverty as a result of access to appropriate financial services and other help as they may need it. As we become more granular in looking at that goal and how we address it, we find that there’s a need to identify the groups of people that are traditionally excluded or among the poorest in different parts of the world, and ask what strategies help address the needs of those groups. People with disabilities is one of those groups.

Even within microfinance organizations that want to serve the poor, there are often unwitting prejudices about the capabilities of people with disabilities, and they end up excluded. So we think this is one of the areas that we need to highlight for microfinance organizations to make sure that they are being inclusive and that where possible and necessary they are taking steps to ensure people with disabilities can access their services and can use them well. At a couple of our Summits Josh Goldstein [who leads CFI’s disability inclusion work] has participated and presented and made Campaign Commitments. We’ve also had workshops on including people with disabilities for Summit participants.

Use headphones and listen only to the left earpiece to hear the original English.

6. What would you identify as the biggest barriers to advancing financial inclusion for persons with disabilities?

Probably the number one barrier is the range of prejudices or assumptions that people grow up with and maintain throughout life. One way of targeting these is helping people see how people with disabilities can contribute and identifying the types of activities they can be involved in.

Other barriers are found among financial institutions’ policies and physical structures. I once spoke with Josh about this. Often a microfinance institution will have a branch office on the second floor because that’s less expensive. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t serve people outside of the second floor office space. Is there a way of creating a kiosk or holding meetings in other locations that are accessible?

7. Our disability inclusion team has been enthusiastic about its collaboration with the Microcredit Summit Campaign. Is this topic gaining traction with other Campaign members? Is there a movement to advance financial inclusion for persons with disabilities?

I think the message is starting to get through. It’s something we need to continue to work on, but Campaign members are already motivated to help people who are excluded. So in their case, it’s mostly pointing out what exclusion looks like in this area and what the steps they can take to promote inclusion. We’re seeing a number of organizations starting to work through that.

For example, Fundación Paraguaya is actually working with the government of Ecuador to figure out how to do financial inclusion for persons with disabilities in Paraguay. On the flip side of this, I spoke with the Ecuadorian government and suggested that they need to do more analysis on the results of their disability inclusion work, and I suggested using the “Poverty Stoplight” system Fundación Paraguaya created. It’s one of the best systems for tracking movement out of poverty, as well as a source of information that helps clients look at their own situation and see how they might improve their lives. Right away upon hearing this Alex Camacho of the Vice President’s Office sat down with Jimena Vallejos of Fundación Paraguaya and they started planning how to share the information on using the stoplight system.

8. Any closing thoughts you’d like to share?

One lasting image I have from this conference is the delegation from Brazil.It was two people who work in the government on rights for people with disabilities, a blind woman and a paraplegic man. I first noticed them because they were staying in the same hotel. I kept looking for the other people from Brazil who got them there — and there wasn’t anyone. As they went through the venue, it was just the two of them together, the blind woman pushing the wheelchair of the paraplegic man and he providing directions to her. Her legs could propel him, his eyes could guide her. It was such a great image of the theme that everyone has something to contribute. We all have something to give, and if we can work together and provide the necessary means, we then include all those abilities in our society — and we’re all better because of it.

Serving children and youth in your work to end poverty

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Thank you to the Microfinance Gateway for translating this to Arabic!


Nearly 70 individuals joined us on March 12th to celebrate Global Money Week and engage with representatives from AGFUND and Child & Youth Finance International, exploring strategies and specific programs to include children and youth in their work to help end poverty.

The discussion went in depth on major challenges facing microfinance practitioners looking to effectively and safely serve this group but also highlighted several leading examples of how those challenges may be overcome.

CYFI_logo

Jared Penner, manager for education and engagement, spoke about the importance of not overlooking children and youth in the financial inclusion map and underscored the importance of early exposure to, and the deeper resulting understanding from, using financial tools — particularly savings accounts. Ignacio Bianco, also with CYFI, talked about their SchoolBank Program in which they work with education and banking partners to deliver specially designed savings accounts to children at their schools.

AGFUND_279x172Nasser Al-Khatani, executive director of AGFUND, presented some foundational lessons that have been developed into guidelines for how AGFUND’s member banks approach serving children and youth through a combination of financial and educational supports. Mr. Al-Khatani also described their own work with delivering savings to children and the important role this program has played in further integrating the children’s parents into the formal financial system.

Watch the full session here!

Access the presenters’ slides or additional resources below

We were thrilled to be part of Global Money Week through a Campaign Commitment E-Workshop for the second year in a row. We are also pleased to have both CYFI and AGFUND as members of the Campaign through their impressive Campaign Commitments!  Find out more here.

We would like to know more about your work too!

Be Inspired. Set Goals. Make a Commitment.

Write to us to find out how to announce your Campaign Commitment and join this global coalition of leaders setting actionable goals for their work to end extreme poverty!

State your Campaign Commitment by contacting us at mycommitment@microcreditsummit.org.


Follow the Campaign’s 100 Million Project:

Learn about the 100 Million Project Project and Campaign Commitments.

Health Outcome Performance Indicators will help us “understand clients”

PMD clients and health providers

Microfinance clients are linked with local healthcare providers by PMD in India.
RESOURCES: 
– Check out the recording of the webinar and review the PPT presentation.
– Read the SEEP Network’s blog post recapping the webinar.

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On March 4, 2015, in collaboration with the SEEP Network‘s HAMED working group, we co-hosted a webinar called “Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: How MFIs Can Track the Health of Clients,” to discuss how microfinance institutions and their partners can measure client health and well-being. Our regional director for Asia-Pacific, Dr. D.S.K. Rao moderated the webinar. Joining us in the webinar were Bobbi Gray (Freedom from Hunger), Sandhya Suresh (ESAF Microfinance and Investments Pvt Ltd in India), and John Alex (Equitas Group and Equitas Development Initiatives Trust in India).

Choosing Health Indicators. Click the image to see it enlarged.

The webinar was focused on addressing questions of application and use of tracking health outcomes and how MFIs benefit from collecting data on client health. The HOPI will help institutions to know who their clients are and understand their needs — a defining theme, according to Dean Karlan, of the World Bank’s forum on microcredit at the end of February, and one that we have written extensively on as well.

And, of course, there were many questions posed by the audience, and we have made and effort to collect and answer those questions in this blog post.

Our work with partners ESAF, Equitas, and other financial service providers in India as well as the development of the HOPI is made possible with the generous support of Johnson & Johnson.

Comment

Tom Shaw (Catholic Relief Services):

Please note that [adding health onto microfinance] is not unique to microfinance institutions (MFIs); it is also applicable and being applied through the savings group platform.

Bobbi Gray:

Agreed. While this discussion has focused on MFIs, there are a growing number of savings groups who have been adding health to their activities as well. We’ve also seen some health sector actors find that savings groups have been organically forming within their programs, so they’ve tried to formalize this process such that the savings group structure becomes a significant part of the program. John Snow International has an example of this in Nigeria.

I think it’s important to add that even within health programs, tracking health outcomes at the “patient” level is just as a significant activity as it is for financial service providers (MFIs and savings groups, alike). While there are population-based surveys that inform the work of the health sector, tracking health outcomes at a more programmatic level is not a simple task for them either because of the cost and time implications of collecting this data.

That’s why I think there is an important opportunity for finding ways to collaborate with health sector actors by using the data that MFIs are able to collect, since it could also be informative data that local health sector actors can also use. This data can be a vehicle for strengthening relationships across these two sectors.

Question 1

Vanina Gacioppo:

How is the health entrepreneur accepted by the community? (As there may be old “quacks” that may not be well prepared but the community have relied on them for years.)

Answers

Bobbi Gray:

Our experiences so far have shown that the health entrepreneurs become advocates for the members of their community. They are the link between the role that the MFI plays as well as the local health clinic. There is always the ongoing concern about developing a cadre of “quacks” but so far, we’ve seen existing midwives and community health workers take on these roles since it seems to be a natural fit.

DSK Rao:

In the particular case of ESAF’s Arogya Mithra (community health entrepreneurs) project, they are well accepted mainly because of the door step service (house-calls) a health entrepreneur provides. She comes to the villagers. In these villages, “quacks” are not common, but one finds less-qualified medical practitioners who do not provide door step services as the health entrepreneurs do.

Sandhya Suresh:

The health entrepreneurs are getting good acceptance in the community even though there are existence of other traditional practitioners, or even “quacks,” as the health entrepreneurs are community women and those who seek their services are known to them and hence they trust them.

ESAF has provided the health entrepreneurs with certificate and ID cards, which they can always produce in case people want to know about the authenticity.

Question 2

Stuart Coupe, Hand in Hand International, London:

I am very interested in the ESAF self-employed microentrepreneurs in the health sector. What services are community members willing to pay them for?

This question was posed and answered in the event, which was recorded and is available here: https://vimeo.com/121303535.

Answers

Bobbi Gray:

I thought Sandhya’s answer during the webinar likely was enough, but it is important to point out that often, people are supposed to have access to many of the health products and services for free as they are provided by the local health clinic; however, the health clinics are often poorly or not consistently staffed and often poorly stocked with the items they should be getting for free.

Therefore, the market for the health entrepreneurs is to provide the products, at the market price, to their community members for the convenience of them being able to access the products when they need them. Plus, for some items, like sanitary napkins, they can purchase items in privacy.

DSK Rao:

The community may be willing to pay for multiple services, such as monitoring hemoglobin levels, cholesterol, etc., but ESAF has focused on monitoring hypertension and diabetes, the two most common and dangerous non-communicable diseases (NCDs). The two parameters which require frequent measurement and which could be easily measured in the field.

Sandhya Suresh:

At present, community members are willing to pay for checking the blood sugar and blood pressure. In addition, they are even willing to pay for cholesterol or thyroid checking; however, these are complicated processes and cannot have a quick result, so we are not doing it at present. We can train the health entrepreneurs to collect the blood samples for these tests, but they can be very risky considering their semi-literate status.

theories of change

Click the image to see it enlarged.

Question 3

Amy Petrocy, Health Program Coordinator at Friendship Bridge, Guatemala:

I’m interested in any experience you all may have with measuring changes in health beliefs/attitudes as a result of health education offered by MFIs and then the correlation with utilization rates of health services.

Answers

Bobbi Gray:

Freedom from Hunger has been designing short mini-surveys that align with our health education. However, we only look at utilization of health services, if this particular aspect is actually part of the module.

For example, the integrated management of childhood illnesses (ICMI) teaches women about the danger signs a caregiver should know that would signal the need to visit a clinic immediately and then it teaches them what they should expect when they are there for the checkup.

Part of the effort here, in the HOPI, comes as a result of the years of measuring changes from pre-tests to post-tests directly related to particular education efforts. While there may be some directly related attitude questions for certain education topics — for example, for water and sanitation, there might be an attitude about whether they agree it’s important to provide safe water to their family or whether they feel confident they can provide safe water — there is growing interest in the field to look more at attitudes as very strong indicators for tracking change.

We found, for example, in our youth financial services work that a young person’s satisfaction with their savings level or their confidence they could cover their typical daily expenses using their savings, was likely a stronger indicator of their financial capability than trying to detect this through a long series of questions to understand how much money they actually had. I think understanding whether a person feels prepared for future health expenses is likely indicative of their real ability — given they know what resources they have at hand to cover those expenses.

When it comes to utilization of health services, I also think it’s important to understand why people do not use the services — in the same way we have to understand why clients might not use a particular financial product — there may be attributes we can change in the short-term and those we can’t. For example, “I feel ashamed” of going to the doctor is a different intervention from “I can’t afford to go.”

DSK Rao:

There are numerous incidents of behavior change such as women ceasing to chew tobacco and reducing oil, salt, and sugar intake in one’s diet. Impressive changes have come in terms of distributing food equally to all family members, including adolescent girls and pregnant and lactating women.

John Alex:

Equitas has a 5-day skill training program on a not-for-profit basis through the Equitas Trust, where the women skill trainer trains 10-15 women for 3 hrs a day in select skills. At the end of each day, she delivers a lesson on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) namely blood pressure (BP), diabetes, cancer, types of tests in a year, and healthy eating habits.

We measure the knowledge level on a sample basis pre- and post-training, and the results showed that the knowledge improved and that they also learned ways to detect early warning symptoms.

Furthermore, feedback showed that many started going for mammogram test and pap smear test and wanted the trainers to also check their BP, sugar levels, and body mass index (BMI); this made us launch a pilot recently to test sugar levels at random at the end of the training, and they are ready to pay the cost. We are working to make this pilot be self-sustaining. Based on the success and pending getting funding, we will roll it across India, which could be a great health indicator.

Question 4

Do you think you can you measure the impact of your health program in a 6 – 8 months period? Don’t you think the time is too short… What do you think?

Answers

Bobbi Gray:

I think it depends on the health intervention. Some are meant to spur immediate changes, and others aren’t. For example, if we can convince a mother to give a child with diarrhea more to drink, she should immediately be able to put this behavior into practice. However, facilitating a household’s ability to install a new sanitation facility might take longer, particularly if households are facing competing financial obligations.

DSK Rao:

As it pertains to the affect on knowledge and awareness as well as the behavior change in improvement in diet, yes, 6-8 months is sufficient. We have seen changes in health seeking behaviors in that period; however, it may not be possible to see an improvement in health parameters.

Sandhya Suresh:

Well, if you have given a health education session, people will try to practice it as soon as possible if they remember it and are convinced about it. We can therefore see the change in the awareness levels and behavior change in them even after 6 to 8 months. But, if you want to measure the impact of a changed health practice, you will definitely need more time.

John Alex:

Equitas has two loan products with a tenure of 18 months and 24 months and option to repay in either fortnightly or monthly installments. I think 6-8 months is too short, and it should be on a continuous basis during every loan cycle.

Question 5

Pierre Claver NKUNZABAGENZI:

Which country in Africa is model now in developing financial health products?

Answers

Bobbi Gray:

We’ve worked with RCPB in Burkina Faso to develop a health savings and loan product. This is a commitment savings device that clients can use to save an established amount of money on a regular basis. Once they hit the minimum, they can use the savings as long as they have receipts showing that the money will be used to cover a health expense.

If the health expense is greater than the amount they have in savings, they can access a health loan, if desired, to make up the difference. There are also savings groups in Benin that also save for health. They save their normal amount with their group, and they save an additional amount on top of this for health expenses, using the same savings group mechanism for collecting and accounting for their funds.

There has also been a study by Pascaline Dupas looking at various savings strategies for health in Kenya that included products where clients simply earmarked their money, put money in a lockbox that was easily accessible, lock boxes that were more secure, etc. She found that most of the mechanisms worked to improve savings for health simply because they provided a safe place to keep their money that they wanted to earmark for health purposes.

While I don’t have the data at hand, I know there have also been some significant efforts in improving access to health insurance products as well, which should not be overlooked when thinking about financial services with a health objective.

Health indicators selected

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Question 6

Tessa Joy P., Research and Evaluation Specialist at Community Economic Ventures, Inc. (CEVI), Philippines:

Are the health indicators set of questions country-specific?

Answers

Bobbi Gray:

Some of them are, and some of them aren’t. Our original aim was to see whether we could find indicators that could work across most contexts and some of them seem to do this well.

For example, the question about whether a person has forgone seeking medical treatment because of the cost works well in all the contexts. For the water and sanitation questions, these questions are often fairly standardized, particularly if you rely on how the national demographic and health surveys articulate the questions and answer options.

However, depending on the key health problems in a country, one might tailor the questions more specifically to the context. For example, while we’ve yet to pilot these questions in West Africa, you could imagine asking about the use of insecticide treated bed nets. Whereas in Latin America, malaria and other infectious diseases might not be as common, and you might look more at chronic illnesses as well as the need for annual checkups to get one’s blood sugar or blood pressure checked.

This is not to say that chronic illnesses are not equally as frequent in places like West Africa; it simply means that an organization needs to think about which of these issues seems to affect their clients the most and where an MFI’s products and services might most directly influence improvements (i.e., improving financial access to mosquito nets, preventive care medical services, etc.)

Question 7

Joy May, branch accountant, CEVI, Philippines:

Can you please differentiate between key health indicator and additional indicator?

Answers

Bobbi Gray:

After the pilot-test MFIs (ESAF, Equitas, and others) completed their first assessments, we have discussed which of the indicators they might want to keep for further implementation of the surveys. While we tested up to 11 different indicators, we recognize that not all of these will feel really compelling to the MFI.

So, we’ve discussed which few they might choose to track over time. In ESAF’s case, they’ve talked about perhaps keeping water treatment as a variable that they’ll track with their poverty measurement efforts for every new loan cycle, but they might follow a sample of clients with a broader number of indicators every five years.

At the end of the day, we want MFIs to choose the smallest number of indicators they’ll track and actually use—over a longer period of time, since larger evaluations and studies have the flexibility to track a larger number of indicators. Which indicators are useful to track at every loan cycle for monitoring purposes vs. which indicators might you track for a broader picture of client outcome for more evaluation purposes (where you’d conduct more analysis, etc.)?

Research Results Equitas India

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Question 8

Joy May, branch accountant, CEVI, Philippines:

What are the health indicators Equitas is planning to finalize for health survey both in rural and urban areas?

Answers

John Alex:

We plan to ask about different types of water filters, and we will ask both men and women. In addition, we will also compare this data with a control sample of non-clients. And, finally, we plan to expand our data collection to more areas on a pan-India scale.

Question 9

Joy May, branch accountant, CEVI, Philippines:

Why is Equitas emphasizing low cost fruits? Can you please elaborate the relationship between fruit and nutrition? What about childhood nutrition specially children below 2 years?

Answers

John Alex:

When we say “fruits,” very often, clients would mistakenly imagine it as costly fruits like apple and oranges, etc., which may be a bit costly for these low income households. We would like to also add questions on the type of locally available fruits like bananas, ber, custard apple, papaya, sapota, and guava.

We also plan to add questions to find out if they have low-cost millets, which are very healthy, and add the same questions about child nutrition and a line on breast feeding.

Question 10

Joy May, branch accountant, CEVI, Philippines:

What would be your sustainability plan on your clients’ health indicator project?

Answers

Sandhya Suresh:

We have already incorporated two health indicators, which we will track for all the clients; for other relevant indicators, we shall conduct an annual Client Change Assessment.

Question 11

Joy May, branch accountant, CEVI, Philippines:

Do you have any plan to integrate your health program with government’s health program under National Rural Health Mission (NRHM)?

Answers

Sandhya Suresh:

Most of our health entrepreneurs are Asha Workers, or health workers appointed under the NRHM, so they are already known in the community. By offering the service that we have promoted, they get an extra income. They have received permission from their NRHM supervisor to charge the user fee for the services they are offering.

Research Results ESAF India

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The PPT presentation

Relevant resources

The SEEP Network | Mar 4, 2015

By Patrick Fine, Leith Greenslade | 26 February 2015

Cassie Chandler | Huffington Post Global Motherhood |

Hosted by FHI 360, Women Thrive, Johnson & Johnson
Wednesday, March 11, 2015 from 5:30 PM to 8:00 PM (EDT)
New York, NY

Empowering communities one Esther at a time

Esther Chebet is a Community Knowledge Worker. She says, "It has made such a difference in my life. From a poor woman whom people say, 'Who is she?' to now, 'There is CKW!' I’m so proud to be a CKW and serve the community willingly."   Photo credit: Grameen Foundation

Esther Chebet is a Community Knowledge Worker. She says, “It has made such a difference in my life. From a poor woman whom people say, ‘Who is she?’ to now, ‘There is CKW!’ I’m so proud to be a CKW and serve the community willingly.”
All photos courtesy of: Grameen Foundation

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>>By Sabina Rogers, Communications and Relationships Manager

Esther Chebet is an inspiration to her neighbors. She is a valuable resource to her community, and they know it. Kids call out to her on the street: “CKW!” Men respect her knowledge and opinions. Women come to her for help fixing problems and resolving disputes.

With International Women’s Day on Sunday, March 8th, I’d like to take this opportunity to appreciate Esther and many women like her — community health workers in India who are working with ESAF to screen their clients for high blood pressure and health professionals in the Philippines who volunteer their time for Community Health Fairs organized by CARD MRI — who are on the front lines in the fight to end extreme poverty.

This is Esther Chebet’s story: one woman who is making a huge difference in her community.

A farmer in rural Uganda, Esther received training as a Community Knowledge Worker (CKW), from Grameen Foundation. She was the star of a webinar hosted by Grameen, telling her story and showing us how one woman can help create an economically empowered community.

She has multiple roles in her community in rural eastern Uganda: farmer, seamstress, volunteer domestic violence counselor, teacher and Grameen Foundation Community Knowledge Worker.

In her role as a Community Knowledge Worker (CKW), Esther visits her neighbors — a large number of whom are women — and helps them solve problems with their crops and livestock. She uses her mobile phone to access an agricultural database with information on relevant, local best farming practices, weather forecasts and market price information. This enables her neighbors to treat diseases like banana wilt and to get better market prices for their produce. As a result of this support, farmers are able to earn on average 38 percent more money from their crops. [1]

Below follows my attempt to capture the Q&A from her video chat, though answers are paraphrased.

Does work as Community Knowledge Worker (CKW) empower women?

Yes, it empowers women. In our culture, men used to say women were property. As a CKW, I’m a women’s right activist. I train women on their rights and they’re now doing things they never could before.

For example, before, women couldn’t take coffee to market. She could grow it but not sell it. Now with my training, women are going and selling their coffee. They’re now so happy. They say, “We sell our coffee, we show a receipt of that transaction.” They grow their own crops and sell it!

What is a typical day as a CKW?

I wake early at 5 AM, then I prepare breakfast for family. At 7am I visit my banana plantation and then feed my animals. After doing my housework, from about 2 PM to 5 or 6 PM, I go visit the savings group members and other people, educating them on what they can get out of becoming a savings group member or answering people’s questions about their farms. Then I come back to prepare supper and rest.

Can you tell a difference in your farm from your work as a CKW?

Yes, after I went through the training, I started gathering manure and built a system of preserving water. Now my banana trees are always green because I always have water for them. Production is up.

Can you give an example of a woman you helped?

I helped a woman who came to me because her poultry were getting sick.

She said, “I hear you’ve got information.”

“Yes, I have; what is the problem?”

“My poultry are doing poorly and my hen is dying.”

I told her to use seltzer water and aloe vera; she did that and now the poultry is doing fine. Then she shared this information with other women who are planting aloe vera for their use.

One man asked me about spacing of coffee. We did a demonstration with him at his plantation. This year, he’s going to have so much coffee.

What is the problem you see most frequently on your neighbors’ farms?

The main thing is a banana bacteria wilt, but through my help as CKW, it’s improving. We, my community, worked together to cut down every affected plant, and now there is no more affected plant. Plus, every farmer knows that it if happens, if the bacteria comes back, it’ll be bad for him, so immediately, they cut down the affected banana tree.

How were you selected to be CKW?

I was elected by my neighbors. Three of us were nominated for election: 2 women and 1 man. We were sent out of the room so they could talk about us, and after about 5 or 10 minutes, they called us back in. They said, “We choose Esther.”

When I was elected, I was happy! They said, “We selected Esther because she is confident, she can speak to many people, and she is willing to serve the community.” Most of the time, I speak the truth. So that is why I was elected. Without knowing exactly what I’d be doing, I was so happy that I would be serving community members. Willingly!

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned as CKW?

I’ve learned the correct amount of manure to use as fertilizer. I’ve also learned how to make my own drugs for treating my animals, plants, and many other things. I make insecticide for my plants and vegetables using local ingredients.

Esther's daughter with avocado

Tell us about building a barn for your cow. You said you got a lot more milk when you built the barn.

Since I built the barn, the cow stays dry and warm when it rains. Since then, the milk production has increased to 5 L in the morning and in the evening 4 L. I sell each liter at 1,200 Ugandan shillings. I sell the morning milk, and my family drinks the milk from the evening.

What is your biggest challenge as a CKW?

Farmers don’t adapt to the message quickly. Among 20 farmers who saw example of a granary I built, only 6 started doing it. They ask for the information, but they see it is hard to use it and some don’t persevere. But, when farmers who keep at it and it works for them, they give testimony of it working and tell others to go talk to Esther

Also, sometimes people neglect you because you’re a woman. They say, this is information for men.

When you train men, do they ever resist information just because you’re a woman?

Esther's manThey like it, but mostly, the people who accept the information are women. Then women tell them, “This is good information from Esther.” Then the man or the husband can come and ask, “Is it true this information?” I say, “Yes, it’s true; I came to your home and talked to your lady.” Then the men ask for more information.

I’m now in my third year of being a CKW, and people are more accepting than they were at the beginning. Men are now coming to trust me; coming to me to ask for information.

How do other women in your community feel about you being a leader?

They feel good because of the information I can give them like women’s rights and creating a savings and credit group. Women have learned to save money and loan it to others in the group; some years from now these women are going to have happy families because they no longer have to ask their husbands, “Ah, please give me something with your money…haha” and so on. No. Now women are able to buy what they need with their own money.

I have nine savings groups that are operating strongly. They say thank you for this knowledge, and they’re sending their kids to school with money they’ve saved or profits earned from businesses financed by the group.

How has being a CKW improved your status in the community? Do people treat you differently now?

It’s changed my status from who I was then, a poor nobody, to who I am now three years later. Men are respecting me. Sometimes I’m a counselor; they call me in to help resolve a problem or counsel families. Kids call out to me, “CKW!” That’s how I’m known now, as “CKW.”

How has being a CKW changed your life?

It has made such a difference in my life. From a poor woman whom people say, “Who is she?” to now, “There is CKW!” I’m so proud to be a CKW and serve the community willingly.

E-Workshop Recap: Open Source Technology and Financial Inclusion

Dear Mr. Maina. Your loan instalment of Ksh. 1000 is due tomorrow. Asante Musoni. Using Open Source Technology to Expand Financial Inclusion. February 19th.

If you were not able to attend the E-Workshop, have a look at the Recording of the session and PowerPoint Slides

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On February 19th, the Mifos Initiative co-hosted with the Microcredit Summit Campaign an E-Workshop sharing insights on open source technology and integrating social performance management into their platform. The Mifos Initiative announced a Campaign Commitment in 2015 to promote poverty measurement tools through the integration of them into their cloud-based core banking system.

Here is what Ed Cable, director of community programs at The Mifos Initiative had to say about the event and the power of our global coalition of Campaign Commitment-makers:

MIFOS LogoThe Mifos Initiative and its global community is driven by creating a common technology foundation for the entire sector to convene around and collectively build new innovation to more deliver financial services to the base of the pyramid. We were honored to share the personal experiences of our community members during the E-Workshop and openly invite and welcome everyone to come join our community. It’s only through the united efforts of the global financial inclusion sector that we can achieve our Commitments to social performance excellence.

 Musoni app replacing paper forms

The E-Workshop also featured Musoni, which runs a mobile microfinance institution based in Kenya and developed the Musoni tablet app in 2012. The Musoni app is a user-friendly, affordable, and flexible platform that enables MFIs to register, track clients. (Musoni Systems, the firm that designed the app can help your MFIs to use the app as well.) This cloud-based app originally powered by Mifos increases efficiency of MFIs who can operate paperless with field staff collecting data on their tablets. The Musoni app already captures the Progress out of Poverty Index (PPI) data.

Cameron Goldie-Scot, CEO of Musoni Sytems, said of the E-Workshop,

Musoni logo“Musoni has always been committed to increasing the level of social performance measurement in the industry. It was great, therefore, to be able to explain the way we have integrated the PPI surveys into the Musoni System and to hear the feedback and questions from the other participants. In particular, I really enjoyed discussing the impact that tablets and smartphones have in making it easier for field officers to capture data remotely.”

Markus Geiss, a software developer involved with the Mifos Community, told us of his decision to work with Mifos and what he is enjoying as a volunteer in the Mifos Community. A long-time software developer, Markus was looking for a new project to work on that could have a strong impact on society. During the E-Workshop, he guided us through the Mifos X platform and explained us how Mifos is planning to integrate the PPI (Progress out of Poverty Index) in the coming months. Markus finds a real interest in working with Mifos because “sustainable open technologies will help not only the poor but provide better, safer and transparent financial services for all of us”.

Have a look at the recording of the session and PowerPoint Slides to know more about Mifos and Musoni. If you are interested in using the Mifos X platform, you can download it from Mifos website or also write them at info@mifos.org. And you can join the Mifos Community at their Annual Summit in Dubai next week, March 10-13.

Thank you to all panelists for demystifying how these open-source platforms can be a helpful tool in reaching the excluded. We also wish to thank all participants who submitted questions and comments and made the session interactive!

We invite you to join the Mifos Initiative in our global coalition to help 100 million families lift themselves out of poverty. State your Campaign Commitment by contacting us at mycommitment@microcreditsummit.org.


Follow the Campaign’s 100 Million Project:

Learn about the 100 Million Project Project and Campaign Commitments.

Related resources:

Friday News Round-up: January 16, 2015

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#action2015 digital rally

This is a screenshot of the #action2015 digital rally this morning

This has been an exciting week for people interested in and organizations committed to achieving the MDGs and getting the next round of goals-setting right with the sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Yesterday, we saw the launch of Action/2015, a growing global movement of more than 1000 organisations in over 120 countries that will use large-scale mass-mobilization campaigns throughout 2015 to call on our global leaders to take ambitious decisions for our future. The hashtag #action2015 was trending worldwide due to the synchronized efforts of organizations around the world the publicize the event in a “digital rally.” (See the hashtag trending over the past 24 hours.) From the U.S. Department of State to our very own Twitter chat on #SocialDeterminants, thousands of people from around the world shared their thoughts on achieving the MDGs and setting the SDGs.

In our Twitter Chat yesterday, one of the questions asked how sanitation affects the health MDGs.

This photo article from November of last year, “Microfinancing to improve sanitation in Dodoma, Tanzania” illustrates how some organizations are building local capacity to improve sanitation solutions and providing financial services to enable families to build latrines.

On Thursday, we announced the first Campaign Commitment for 2015. The Mifos Initiative is committing to integrate social performance management and poverty measurement tools into its free and open source cloud-based core banking system. The Mifos Initiative joins a global coalition of 56 other Commitment makers working to help 100 million families lift themselves out of extreme poverty. Learn more.

On Monday, Martin Ravallion published an article on Vox (“No-one left behind?“) that might have a profound effect on the way that our sector thinks about measuring progress out of poverty. Is it enough to count the numbers under a certain poverty line (be it $1.25/day or $0.50/day) or should we, as Ravallion argues, adopt an additional indicator that assesses the success in raising the consumption floor of the ultra-poor (those living on less than $0.50/day) in order to measure the movement of extreme/ultra poor households out of poverty? In his conclusion, Ravallion explains,

To anticipate one response, it might be argued that progress in lifting the floor is a second-order issue, as long as fewer people live near the floor. That is implicit in the traditional counting methods used to assess progress against poverty. However, proponents of this view must surely take pause when one notes that for a long time, and across countries at very different levels of development, social policies have often claimed that they aim to ensure a minimum level of living above any biological consumption floor required for mere survival.

That same day, The Guardian published “The ultra-poor: a pioneering technique is helping the hardest to reach,” an article by Scott MacMillan at BRAC USA about the Targeting the Ultra-Poor Programme (better known as the graduation model) and help them lift themselves out of poverty in a sustainable way. MacMillan announced, “We’re now ready to open-source that approach.” We salute BRAC for their hard work and well-earned recognition; indeed, they’ve been a favorite topic in our annual State of the Campaign Report, as you can see in “Graduating out of CCTs” and our infographic, “The CCT-Graduation Model Ecosystem”:

cct-grad-model_infographic_final_en1_SMALL

The Campaign in 2014: Making Progress Toward Ending Extreme Poverty

Expokonool vendors being recognized in the closing ceremony for their hard work

At the 17th Microcredit Summit, Expokonool vendors were recognized in the closing ceremony for their hard work

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As we come to the end of the year, we reflect on 2014.

In 2014, we more than DOUBLED the number of Campaign Commitments, and in the past two years, 54 Commitments have been announced by 48 organizations, including AGFUND, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, the International Labour Organisation (ILO), BRAC, Grassroots Capital Management, Red Financiera Rural, Oikocredit, and Grameen Foundation. These organizations join a coalition to advance the industry toward helping 100 million families lift themselves out of extreme poverty.

With the first 5 installments of the Campaign’s new E-Workshop Series featuring Commitment-making organizations, more than 400 participants learned important practical lessons on innovations and tools that work to support those making the journey out of extreme poverty.

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

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

17th Microcredit Summit #17MCSummitIn September, 875 people from 60 countries joined us at the 17th Microcredit Summit in Mexico, including high-level dignitaries like Secretary of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal, Yucatán Governor Rolando Zapata Bello, and Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus. The agenda focused on the theme “Generation Next: Innovations in Microfinance.”

“The participation of global leaders in combating poverty. The cases that inspired partnership work in a joint effort to build a better future for generations.”
— a participant on what was best about the Summit

In the lead up to the Summit, the Campaign led 6 policy makers from Ghana, Mozambique, and Malawi on a 12 day intensive field visit to sites in Ethiopia and Mexico for a deep dive into successful strategies for implementing social protection and livelihood development programs. The policy makers developed innovation plans for implementing throughout 2015 the lessons learned from their trip on returning home.

Throughout the Summit, more than 160 presenters participated in 7 plenaries, 35 workshops, and 6 full-day trainings; the materials, including videos and presentations, can be viewed online. Together, we built a vision for the next generation of financial services that reach everyone and that provide even the poorest and most remote with the tools and resources they need to complete the journey to sustainable livelihoods.

To get an overview of the 17th Microcredit Summit and key topic areas discussed, you can read our article in the forthcoming winter edition of the Journal for Social Business to learn more about the financial and social services that are building pathways out of poverty.


In June, we launched Resilience: State of the Microcredit Summit Campaign Report, 2014. The report emphasizes the key role that actors in the financial ecosystem can play in helping end extreme poverty by promoting the frameworks, systems, partnerships and strategies that deliver the types of products and services that help build resilience.

In July, we published Integrated Health and Microfinance in India, Volume II with Freedom from Hunger and the Indian Institute of Public Health-Gandhinagar. It highlights the policy measures in the Indian microfinance sector since 2011, documents best practices towards integrating health and microfinance, and proposes an agenda for moving forward to expand access to healthcare.

We also launched a joint project in July called “Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies: Partnering to improve maternal health in the Philippines” with Freedom from Hunger and CARD, the largest MFI in the Philippines. Together, we aim to improve health knowledge and promote behavior change for more than 600,000 women by December 2015 and strengthen “MFIs for Health,” a collaboration of health and microfinance practitioners in the Philippines.

Pregnant woman attending the first community health fair of “Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies” program in the Philippines

Join us for a fantastic 2015!