ESAF Microfinance commits to comprehensive services for clients

ESAF Microfinance trains community health workers and organizes health fairs for their clients and poor communities. Photo courtesy of ESAF Microfinance
— Read the press release announcing ESAF Microfinance’s Campaign Commitment
— Read their Commitment letter

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The Microcredit Summit Campaign welcomes ESAF Microfinance as the 57th organization to make a Campaign Commitment. ESAF joins a global coalition to help 100 million families lift themselves out of extreme poverty. ESAF will help support their clients in uplifting themselves from poverty by providing them with education, training, and support services.

ESAF and the Campaign strongly believe that microfinance services should be complemented by education, training, and other supporting programs that help poor families battle chronic poverty and social exclusion. For example, in partnership with the Campaign, ESAF trained community health workers (Arogya Mithras in Hindi) to provide health education and front-line screening services for non-communicable diseases to poor communities. You can learn about that project in “Integrating Health with Microfinance: Community Health Workers in Action.”

For the financial year 2015-2016, ESAF Microfinance aims to reach out to new clients through its products and services, committing to the following:

  1. To offer microfinance services to 200,000 new clients through expanding the geographic reach in some of the backward states of Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, and Bihar.
  2. To increase the reach of financial services to an additional 10% of clients, making it to a total of 50% of clients who belong to socially backward communities/tribes (scheduled castes and scheduled tribes as per government of India)
  3. To offer livelihood support services to at least 10,000 clients who shall be in a position to contribute to the income of their household.
  4. To measure the poverty levels of 200,000 clients using PPI.
  5. To offer financial literacy training to at least 50,000 clients.
  6. To offer health education and awareness sessions to at least 50,000 clients and to offer health check-up services to benefit at least 5,000 clients.
  7. To offer financial and non-financial services to at least 3,000 PWD (persons with disabilities) clients.
  8. To offer women’s leadership and empowerment programs to benefit at least 50,000 clients.
  9. To reach at least 2,000 children through educational programs for academic growth and value education.
  10. Educate at least 50,000 clients on environment protection and use of clean energy products.

Chairman and managing director, K. Paul Thomas, explains why their commitment includes a number or programs addressing multiple aspects of the client’s life such as health:

“ESAF’s vision and mission very clearly emphasize on holistic transformation of its poor clients,” he said, “and, we are convinced this cannot be achieved unless their health issues are addressed.”

ESAF Microfinance is one of the premier microfinance institutions in India today, particularly in Kerala, effectively empowering 750,000 members through 160 dedicated branches. The founder of ESAF ventured into microfinance in 1995, by organizing self-sustainable groups, to alleviate poverty and generate employment. Since then, ESAF has grown by leaps and bounds in the microfinance sector, promoting microfinance as a viable, sustainable, and effective means for creating jobs and reducing poverty.

Read the Commitment Letter from ESAF Microfinance.

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

We invite you to join ESAF Microfinance and…

Get Inspired. Set a Goal. Make a Commitment.

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

Connecting across continents at the RESULTS International Conference

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

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

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This article was originally posted by RESULTS on April 16, 2015. Re-posted with permission. KANCO, the Kenya AIDS NGOs Consortium, is a member of the ACTION global health advocacy partnership with RESULTS.

>>Authored by Joyce Matogo, KANCO Grassroots Manager.

“Connecting with other human beings about issues that affect human beings, you’re able to relate to these issues more closely…. When you step outside of your own continent and see other people who have good will, other people who care, it’s very empowering.”

I never thought I’d go to the U.S., much less Capitol Hill. But on the last day of the RESULTS International Conference, that’s exactly where I found myself. Standing in front of the Capitol dome with hundreds of other advocates, all I could think was, “This is a central place of power. Decisions are made here. And here I am, giving the human face to the vaccines issue.”

When I went back home to Kenya, I used the lessons that I learned at the conference to arrange an advocacy day and implement the RESULTS organizing model. I wanted grassroots volunteers in Kenya to feel the same sense of empowerment that I felt when I advocated in Washington. When our grassroots sat down with members of Parliament, they were well prepared to inform their MPs about the TB epidemic, explain the value of vaccines, and communicate a clear call to action.

Just like at the International Conference, our grassroots were ready to discuss not only problems but also solutions. Later that day, an MP that we’d spoken with brought our legislative ask on tuberculosis to the floor of Parliament. This prompted discussion on the deteriorating status of health in the country. The event was so successful that the Kenyan government expanded funding for immunizations and tuberculosis.

The RESULTS International Conference was an eye opener for me. I realized that anyone and everyone can be an advocate for issues that matter. I encourage you to come to the conference this year to see the success of our efforts. Let’s celebrate our incredible progress and encourage each other to keep going.

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

We are all lobbyists

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Equitas commits to improve focus on clients and service coverage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read Commitment Letter from Equitas.

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

We invite you to join Equitas and…

Get Inspired. Set a Goal. Make a Commitment.

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

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,

“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:

“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…

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

How families are creating step-by-step plans for poverty elimination

This family has used the Poverty Stoplight to self-assess their situation and needs. They will now work with Fundación Paraguaya to develop a plan to lift themselves out of poverty.

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Fundación Paraguaya declared its support for the goal of helping 100 million families lift themselves out of extreme poverty by making a Campaign Commitment at the 17th Microcredit Summit in Merida, Mexico. The Microcredit Summit Campaign recently caught up with Fundación Paraguaya to learn about the ways they are working towards the end of extreme poverty.

Luis Fernando Sanabria: what drives their Commitment to end extreme poverty

>> By Luis Fernando Sanabria, Gerente General, Fundación Paraguaya


This year, Fundación Paraguaya celebrates its 30-year anniversary working in microfinance and entrepreneurial education. During this time, we have seen the following economic progress of many of our clients and their families: increased income (116 percent on average), better business management practices, and increased loan amounts.

In spite of these inspiring achievements, we know that many of our clients and their families have remained poor even when they earn more money. While many clients have significantly increased their income, others hover near the official poverty line or have unstable income and lack family savings. Moreover, many of the families we work with lack modern bathrooms, live in overcrowded and unsafe housing, cook on the ground, have no access to clean water, do not vaccinate their children nor send them to school, and live in contaminated environments. Additionally, many suffer from low self-esteem, do not have entrepreneurial spirit, and are victims of domestic violence.

The above description shows us that families can be poor in many ways. Poverty, as we have come to understand, can be seen as a “grey cloud” that hinders poor families because it can so complex and overwhelming that they do not know where to start. Fundación Paraguaya has developed the Poverty Stoplight to simplify and operationalize this concept by dividing the problem of poverty into smaller pieces so that families can overcome their deprivations step-by-step. The Poverty Stoplight methodology is based on the following principles:

  1. Poverty is multidimensional.
  2. Poverty can be eliminated.
  3. Poverty affects different families in different ways.
  4. Poor people should take a participatory role in overcoming their own poverty condition instead of being simply program beneficiaries.
  5. Given that poverty is multidimensional, the involvement of multiples role players from the public and private sector as well as the civil society is needed in order to eliminate it.
Don Aníbal Borja is a client from Fundacion Paraguya

Don Aníbal Borja is a client from Fundacion Paraguya, watch his interview HERE

We have deconstructed the concept of poverty into 6 dimensions that are operationalized in 50 indicators. These dimensions are: Income and Employment, Health and Environment, Housing and Infrastructure, Education and Culture, Organization and Participation, Interiority and Motivation. In the Poverty Stoplight, all indicators have the same weight. That is, it is not an index but a dashboard, a list of items that define how poverty affects a particular family.

Families are “owners” of their poverty and therefore must accountability and an active role to overcome it. Fundación Paraguaya’s role in this process is to offer each family a “Menu of Solutions” to the different poverty indicators (goods and services), and at the same time, develop a plan based on the Influencer theory[1] to train and motivate families to solve the issues of poverty that affect them. This “Menu” defines solutions that (a) are directly provided by our organization, (b) are made available through strategic partnerships (with NGOs, government, and the private sector), and (c) originate from the social activism of each individual family.

The Poverty Stoplight methodology starts with a family self-assessment. For this, families with support from an advisor take a visual survey using software developed in partnership with Hewlett Packard. The visual survey uses pictures to illustrate different situations of poverty for each of the 50 indicators. Each family evaluates their situation and for each indicator they select the picture that better depicts their family condition. Indicators have three possible definitions (defined by 3 pictures) and define situations of extreme poverty (red), poverty (yellow) and non-poverty (green).  In addition, the software allows us to geo-tag Poverty Stoplight data, which results in a “Poverty Map” displaying how each indicators affect different families.


Upon complementing the 50 indicators self-assessment, families have a better understanding of how poverty affects them: they can see how many “reds” and “yellows” they have. At the same time, they can see that family already has “blessings” or aspects in which the family is no longer poor. This is visualized by all the “greens” displayed in their Poverty Stoplight. With support from a village bank advisor, families then create a “Life Map”; that is, they identify the indicators they want to solve, and establish family’s short and long-term goals aimed at overcoming poverty (turning all indicators from red and yellow into green).

The Poverty Stoplight approach has been applied in different settings. In addition to its microfinance clients, Fundación Paraguaya has applied this methodology with its 400 employees during the past three years. As a result, 35 businesses and private industries in Paraguay are using the Poverty Stoplight in order to better understand their employees’ situation and help their families overcome poverty. Moreover, the Government of Paraguay’s Central Department[2] has started a pilot project at a marginalized neighborhood, which is being followed by the Government of Villa Hayes Department.[3] At an international level, organizations from 18 different countries have launched pilot projects using the Poverty Stoplight methodology in Tanzania, India, South Africa, Uganda, Nigeria, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Guatemala, and others.

Our institution aims at achieving financial inclusion of poor families with the soul purpose that they overcome poverty. Using the Poverty Stoplight methodology, 20,000 families have overcome income poverty, and 2,000 families have overcome multidimensional poverty as measured by the 50 indicators over the past 3 years.

With the Microcredit Summit Campaign, we are committed to reach 125,000 families in the next three years, contributing to a total of 30,000 families that overcome income poverty and a total of 9,000 families that overcome multidimensional poverty in all 50 indicators in Paraguay.

Every family has all of the accumulated potential needed to overcome poverty. Our role as a microfinance institution is to develop appropriate methodologies to unleash that potential. The Poverty Stoplight is our way of “rubbing the magic lamp” to liberate the energy trapped within each family to overcome poverty.

The same family from the top of the article has gone through the Stoplight process and now their situation is much improved.

The same family from the top of the article has gone through the Stoplight process and now their situation is much improved.

[1] Influencer Theory, developed by

[2] Regional Government, Paraguay

[3] Regional Government, Paraguay

To learn more about Fundacion Paraguaya, click here.

Join Fundación Paraguaya in stating YOUR Campaign Commitment!

Más que inclusión financiera, eliminación de pobreza

Este año Fundación Paraguaya cumple 30 años trabajando en programas de emprendedurismo y microfinanzas. Durante este tiempo, hemos visto el progreso económico de muchos de nuestros clientes; como aumentaban sus ingresos (en promedio, 116%!), administraban mejor sus negocios e incrementaban los montos de préstamos solicitados.

Sin embargo, muchos de ellos siguen siendo pobres! Aunque aumentaron sus ingresos significativamente, muchos no superan la línea de pobreza nacional, o sus ingresos son inestables o no tienen ahorros. Muchos siguen careciendo de baño moderno, viven hacinados y en viviendas inseguras, cocinan en el suelo, no tienen acceso a agua potable, no vacunan a sus hijos, no los educan y viven en un medio ambiente inapropiado. Muchos sufren de baja autoestima, no tienen espíritu emprendedor, y sufren de violencia doméstica.

Muchas maneras de ser pobre. La pobreza es como una “nube gris” que aplasta a las familias pobres, pues es tan compleja que las mismas no saben por donde empezar!. Fundación Paraguaya ha desarrollado el Semáforo de Eliminación de Pobreza para simplificar y operativizar el concepto y dividirlo en “pedacitos” de manera que las familias puedan resolver sus carencias paso a paso.

La metodología, se basa en las siguientes premisas: 1) la pobreza es multidimensional, 2) la pobreza puede ser eliminada, 3) la pobreza afecta de manera distinta a cada familia, 4) la familia debe ser protagonista en su salida de pobreza, 5) se debe involucrar a la mayor cantidad posible de actores para que contribuyan a eliminar la pobreza: familias, ONGs, gobiernos, empresa privada.

Hemos dividido el concepto de pobreza en 6 dimensiones, operativizadas por 50 indicadores. Las dimensiones son Ingresos y Empleo, Educación y Cultura, Vivienda e Infraestructura, Salud y Medio Ambiente, Organización y Participación e Interioridad y Motivación. Todos los indicadores tienen el mismo peso: no se trata de un índice sino mas bien de un listado de ítems que definen la pobreza.

Las familias son las “dueñas de su pobreza” y quienes deben superarla. El rol de la Fundación es poner a disposición de las mismas un “Menú” de soluciones a los indicadores de pobreza (bienes y servicios) y desarrollar un Plan de Influencia Positiva[4] para capacitar y motivar a las familias. Este “menú” contiene soluciones (a) proveídas directamente por la institución, (b) a través de alianzas (gobiernos, ONGs., empresas privadas), o (c) mediante el activismo social de las mismas familias.

El programa se inicia con una autoevaluación de las familias para lo cual utilizan un software (desarrollado con HP) que emplea fotografías para ilustrar los 50 indicadores de pobreza. Cada familia se autoevalúa (en cada indicador) como pobre extremo (Rojo), pobre no extremo (Amarillo) o no pobre (verde). El software permite georeferenciar la información, lo que nos proporciona un mapa de la pobreza, indicador por indicador, familia por familia.

Una vez que se ha autoevaluado en los 50 indicadores, cada familia sabe en que consiste su pobreza: cuantos y cuales rojos y amarillo tiene. Pero también sabe cuales son sus bendiciones: cuantos y cuales verde tiene. Con la ayuda de su asesora de crédito, la familia construye su Mapa de Vida; es decir establece sus metas para el año y para los subsiguientes y las acciones que tomará para transformar sus amarillos y rojos en verdes.

El Semáforo de Eliminación de Pobreza ya esta siendo utilizado en otros ámbitos. La Fundación lleva tres años implementándolo con sus propios colaboradores (400), pero además otras 35 empresas e industrias privadas en Paraguay están utilizando la metodología para lograr que sus empleados superen la pobreza. Además, la Gobernación del Departamento Central[5] ha iniciado un piloto en un barrio marginal y la Gobernación de Presidente Hayes[6] está próxima a hacerlo. Finalmente, organizaciones de 18 países han iniciado proyectos piloto de implementación de la metodología (Tanzania, India, Sudáfrica, Uganda, Nigeria, Rca. Dominicana, Colombia, Guatemala, entre otros).

Nuestra institución apunta a lograr la inclusión financiera de familias pobres con el único objetivo de que esta estas superen la pobreza. Mediante la metodología del Semáforo de Eliminación de Pobreza en los últimos 3 años hemos logrado que 20.000 familias superen la pobreza de ingresos y que 2.000 superen la pobreza multidimensional.

Nuestro compromiso con la Cumbre del Microcrédito es alcanzar 125.000 familias en los próximos 3 años y lograr que 30.000 superen la pobreza de ingresos y 9.000 superen la pobreza multidimensional.

Todas las familias tienen el potencial que se necesita para superar su propia pobreza. Nuestro rol como organizaciones de Microfinanzas es desarrollar la metodología apropiada para liberar este potencial. El Semáforo de Eliminación de Pobreza es nuestra manera de “frotar la lámpara mágica” para liberar la energía que cada familia tiene atrapada.

[4] Teoría de Influencia Positiva, desarrollada por
[5] Gobierno Regional, Paraguay
[6] Gobierno Regional, Paraguay

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 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

Follow the Campaign’s 100 Million Project:

Learn about the 100 Million Project Project and Campaign Commitments.

Related resources:

Join us for an E-Workshop on Open Source Technology and Financial Inclusion

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The Mifos Initiative is co-hosting with the Microcredit Summit Campaign the next E-Workshop on February 19th, sharing insights on “open” technology platforms. The Mifos Initiative announced a Campaign Commitment in 2015 to promote poverty measurement tools through integrating them into their cloud-based core banking system.

The E-Workshop will include a demo of the Progress out of Poverty Index (PPI) in the Mifox X platform. REGISTER TODAY!

As organizations around the world embrace digital financial services for the poor, the entire sector must embrace open platforms, open standards, and interoperability in order to reach the 2.5 billion people who remain unbanked. “Open” is the key for organizations to be able to customize a common software platform.

Leaders of the Mifos Initiative will introduce the world’s first fully “open” technology platform for financial services providers (Mifos X Platform). Learn how using open systems and standards as a common foundation can lead to reaching more of the world’s poorest.

Join us on Thursday, February 19th at 11:00 AM (GMT-5) for an E-Workshop webinar titled “Using Open Source Technology to Expand Financial Inclusion”

Craig Chelius
Executive Director (Moderator)
Cameron Goldie-Scot
Markus Geiss
Software Developer

Join us for this exciting discussion to gain a deeper understanding of the Mifos X Platform and hear from partners who are using it about their challenges, gains, and the practical applications!

This webinar will be conducted in English. For our Spanish-speaking colleagues, the Portal de Microfinanzas (@Portal_MF) will be live-tweeting in Spanish the key points addressed by the speakers.

Follow this e-workshop and the Campaign’s 100 Million Project:

Learn about the 100 Million Project Project and Campaign Commitments.

The 100 Million Project: Commitment to Action at the Summit

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Participant writing on the Wall

A  Summit participant writes on the Commitments Wall

Where to find Commitments at the Summit?

The 17th Microcredit Summit in Mérida was a huge success, bringing together some 1000 people from 75 countries and featuring 162 speakers and presenters in 7 plenary sessions and 35 workshops. Throughout sessions delegates had the opportunity to hear about the Campaign Commitments their colleagues from other organizations weremaking ahead of the Summit. Launched in 2013 with 18 original Commitments, we celebrated together the 36 new organizations joining them now 2014. Many present were inspired to become leaders in the movement as well and joined (or reaffirmed their role in the Campaign) by stating their own at the Commitment Café. Join them by making your own Campaign Commitment to action! Write to or visit our Online Commitment Form.

Full Commitment wall

51 organizations, including Plan International, the Rotary and the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection from Ghana, wrote on the Commitment Wall.

Throughout the Summit, around 200 attendees visited the Commitment Café every day and 51 new Commitments were written on the Commitment Wall. The Café and the Wall were the gathering area for Summit delegates to join the Campaign, by stating their Commitment to actions that contribute to the global movement to end extreme poverty. There, they had the opportunity to meet with Commitment coaches who helped them form their Commitments. Commitment Makers then posted their actions on the Commitment Wall – creating a dramatic and inspiring range of actors and actions that will help move the industry toward ending extreme poverty.

Commitment Coach

A Commitment Coach is helping a Summit Participant to state her Commitment at the Cafe.

At the Closing Plenary, Summit delegates together with Mohammad Yunus, Larry Reed, John Hatch and Carmen Velasco celebrated the efforts of all Committed Organizations. We particularly acknowledged the 12 organizations who met their 2013 Commitment. The 36 Commitments announced in 2014 were also applauded and represent a great step towards galvanizing the movement to help 100 million families lift themselves out of poverty.

What Commitment Makers say about Campaign Commitments

During the Summit, we conducted interviews with representatives from Commitment Makers to learn more about their Commitment. They shared with us their own Commitments, their current progress on those actions and also told us why it is important for their organization to join the movement to end extreme poverty.

Yves Moury,  Founder and CEO, Fundación Capital (see his short Interview at the Video Corner here)

“We need massive alliances among all sectors of civil society. We invite governments, banks, private companies, civil society institutions to join us for the magnificent objective of ending extreme poverty by 2030.”

Anne Hastings, Microfinance CEO Working Group (see her short interview at the Video Corner here)

“I am here at the Summit because the 8 CEOs I represent have made Commitments. We are here to learn what we can about partnerships that we need to be building and how to collaborate better with the rest of the sector. The challenge for the microfinance sector today is to demonstrate results and especially results in reaching and assisting the extremely poor to get out of poverty.”

William Maddocks,  Program Director, Sustainable Microenterprise and Development , Carsey School of Public Policy

“We want to be part of this Campaign. Making this commitment is an opportunity for us to tell more people about what we do and to support the work of the Campaign. We want our voice to be a part of this Campaign.”

Closing Ceremony: we celebrated 2013 and 2014 Commitments.

Closing Ceremony: we celebrated 2013 and 2014 Commitments. Click here to see all Committed organizations.

Jared Penner,  Head of the Education Division Child and Youth Finance International: “Commitments are made within a community of believers that think this is something incredibly important to advance the industry and these targets give us something to really aspire towards. They are not legally-binding commitments, but there is something that allows us to keep each other accountable and see how things are advancing within our own operations.”

What you can do today

Join us for an E-Workshop on Gender Performance on Tuesday, Nov 11th


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Learn how the Gender Performance Indicators will help you track and improve gender performance. Continue reading

Concrete Steps to Managing Social Performance: SPTF’s Campaign Commitment


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Learn about SPTF’s progress on their 2013 Commitment as well as how they are working towards the end of extreme poverty EspañolFrançais Continue reading

How Microfinance Can Contribute to the End of Extreme Poverty

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The State of the Microcredit Summit Campaign Reportreleased annually by the Microcredit Summit Campaign, highlights the latest data on the progress towards reaching more than 175 million of the poorest families with microfinance. This week the Gateway interviews director Larry Reed regarding findings from the recently released 2014 report, Resilience. 

The following interview was published today on the Gateway. Thank you to the Portal de Microfinanzas for translating this interview into Spanish.

Gateway: The theme for this year’s Report is Resilience. Where did that theme come from?

Larry Reed: I visited the Phillippines in January to see how the microfinance community was coping with the mass destruction caused by Typhoon Yolanda which struck last October. Only 75 days after the typhoon hit, I attended a CARD Center meeting in Tacloban and found the people there rebuilding their homes and businesses, re-stocking their store inventories, selling to and buying from their neighbors, and sharing what little they have with those still in need. The people of Tacloban have shown amazing resilience in the face of unimaginable losses. I was amazed by the energy and hopefulness of people who had lost almost everything in the storm, and the role played by MFIs like CARD to provide food, medicine, insurance payments, and other financial services immediately after the storm. During the Center meeting, the CARD staff discussed a “calamity loan” they were offering to help clients rebuild and start over. The women asked lots of questions about the loan and its terms, finally deciding that it could be helpful. They only requested one change. “We think you should call it a rebuilding loan rather than a calamity loan,” they told the accounts officer. “We don’t want to be treated like victims.” With the help of NGOs, MFIs, and their community, they have found the strength to get back on their feet and start over.

Gateway: The Microcredit Summit Campaign collects data every year for the number of microfinance borrowers worldwide and the number of those that are among the poorest in their countries. Last year, the numbers showed a decrease for the first time, largely due to millions of loans written off in Andhra Pradesh, India. What did the numbers show this year?


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LR: Overall, the numbers show a rebound almost equal to the amount of the losses of clients last year, with total clients worldwide reaching 204 million. On the other hand, the total number of poorest clients (those living on less than $1.25 a day) continued to fall, from 124 million to 116 million.

Gateway: Interesting. Does that mean that microfinance is moving away from serving those living in extreme poverty?

LR: That’s what we wondered when we first looked at the numbers too. We followed up with a number of MFIs to learn more about these reductions. We found that most of the decline can be explained by MFIs making increased use in recent years of poverty measurement tools like the Progress out of Poverty Index™ (PPI™) or the Poverty Assessment Tool (PAT) in which they often found that they were overestimating their poverty outreach.


Click to enlarge

In the long run, we believe that increased use of these tools will lead to more people in extreme poverty being reached with products and services that better meet their needs. We’ve already seen this start to happen in the Philippines, where 10 of the largest MFIs began using the PPI at the same time. The graph below shows a decline in numbers of the poorest being reached in 2011, as the reports from the PPI showed they were reaching fewer of the poorest than they had previously estimated. This led these MFIs to begin looking at what prevented people living in extreme poverty from becoming clients and to developing policies, systems, and services that could include the poorest. As a result, the numbers of poorest clients started going up again in 2012.

Gateway: Through the Microcredit Summit Campaign, the industry set a goal of helping 100 million families move themselves out of extreme poverty. With these numbers, do you think it will be possible to reach that goal?

LR: We can reach that goal but only if we expand the use of the products, services, and partnerships that reach those in extreme poverty and that facilitate their movement out of poverty. In the report we highlight some of these strategies, including:

  • Providing health education, financing, and products through the existing channels for delivering microfinance.
  • Building agricultural value chains that reach small scale producers in rural areas.
  • Using digital cash and banking agents to deliver financial services at much lower costs.
  • Combining conditional cash transfers with ultra-poor graduation programs to provide pathways out of poverty for massive numbers of people.

Through Campaign Commitments, we are building a broad coalition to advance the movement within the financial inclusion and microfinance sectors to help bring and end to extreme poverty. Since October 2013, 27 organizations, including 14 MFIs, have launched a Commitment. These Commitments will help to foster gender equality, disseminate new research on what works best for those in extreme poverty, increase access to both financial and non-financial services for a variety of client groups, and launch or grow programs providing financial education. We look forward to reaching a total of 50 Campaign Commitments by the Summit this September. LOGO_SUMMIT_English_vertical

Gateway: What can we expect to see at this year’s Summit, taking place in Mexico from September 3-5?

LR: The agenda for the 17th Microcredit Summit will be driven by the theme Generation Next: Innovations in Microfinance, which is premised on the idea that the next generation could be the first to grow up without knowing extreme poverty. We can help make this happen by providing a range of tools and services to help people living in poverty address vulnerabilities, build resilience, develop capabilities, and take advantage of opportunities. The plenaries are being designed to touch on tangible ways to end extreme poverty. These plenaries include “The Next Generation of Leaders,” “Making Markets Safe for the Vulnerable,” “Ending Extreme Poverty,” Building Pathways out of Poverty,” and “Reaching the Excluded.” Speakers will include Muhammad Yunus, Glynis Rankin, Mariella Greco, Yves Moury, Mercedes de Canalda, and Shameran Abed. Participants have designed many of the workshops, which helps us ensure that they address issues practitioners are facing in the field. The Summit will highlight the innovative work of financial inclusion and microfinace to reach those living in extreme poverty and facilitate their movement out of poverty.

Join the discussion and make global partnerships by attending the 17th Microcredit Summit! Register today for the 17th Microcredit Summit in Merida, Mexico, this September 3-5! Find out what’s on the agenda:

  1. Field visits on September 1st and 2nd (pre-Summit)
  2. PRONAFIM’s 13th National Microfinance Conference on September 3rd (pre-Summit)
  3. Plenary sessions and workshops on September 3rd to 5th
  4. Summit Trainings on September 6th (post-Summit)

Be social with us on Facebook and Twitter (@MicroCredSummit) using the hashtag #17MCSummit.

Re-post of “Next Generation Innovation in Microfinance? The Graduation Approach”

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Aude de Montesquiou, a microfinance specialist at CGAP, published a nice summary of the June 9th e-workshop called “Adopting the Graduation Model to Serve the Ultra-Poor.” If you want to learn more about the graduation model, BRAC offers “Immersion and Training Visits” and the next two are this August (week of the 18th and 25th). Please contact Sadna Samaranayake to register.

The e-workshop clearly unpacked how the Graduation Approach works and how microfinance institutions have and can adopt the model. Sadna Samaranayake from BRAC USA took participants through a detailed look at the various components of the program emphasizing the value of community participation in the client selection/ targeting process, the asset transfer component and how clients are trained on generating an income from their newly acquired assets. She spoke about the integrated focus on savings, health care support, and the important role played by village level poverty reduction committees mobilized to help clients with various issues and household shocks after the duration of the 24 month program. BRAC USA believes that, for sustainable MFIs looking to extend their pro-poor missions, the Graduation approach is a great use of donor or discounted funding to help them reach a previously inaccessible poorer client segment—much in line with the “double business case” work conducted by Grameen Foundation.

Read the full post.

Getting Started on Gender Performance: The Select Five

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Jaclyn Berfond, Senior Associate of Strategy at Women’s World Banking writes about the Select Five Gender Performance Indicators – which reflect the key indicators that the industry should use to ensure they are serving women well. 


Women’s World Banking knows it is important to measure how well financial institutions are serving women clients and staff, and to continue to build the business case for women.

Last year, we introduced the gender performance manual, Gender Performance Indicators: How well are we serving women? Just a month ago, we made a Campaign Commitment with the Microcredit Summit Campaign to ensure our entire network of women-focused financial institutions report on these indicators by 2015. And today, we are thrilled to announce The Select Five, the key indicators that all industry stakeholders should use to track and improve gender performance.

What is Gender Performance?

If a financial institution is targeting low-income women, it should be able to measure how well it serves this market. If an institution serves a majority of women, it should evaluate how these clients contribute to its sustainability. And if an institution wants to be the best place for women customers, it needs to understand if it is the best place for women employees and leaders. This is gender performance. And data-backed gender performance reflects an institution’s commitment to serving women more than any mission statement ever could.

Why the Select Five?

Because looking at a financial institution’s performance from a gender lens may be new for many stakeholders, we conducted research with the MIX to identify the ‘gateway’ indicators an institution should start tracking to jump-start their journey toward gender performance excellence. Given the many financial and social performance standards financial institutions serving the low-income population are held to, it was important to us that the Select Five didn’t add to this reporting burden but instead could be incorporated into existing initiatives, while still yielding meaningful insights on gender performance.

A rigorous analysis* yielded the Select Five.

  1. Percent new women borrowers
  2. Average loan size per woman borrower
  3. Women borrower retention rate
  4. Women’s portfolio at risk of greater than 30 days
  5. Women staff retention rates

Download the Select Five


As part of our Commitment with the Microcredit Summit Campaign, we have rolled out the Select Five indicators to our network institutions and have begun collecting data in order to look at our network’s performance as a whole.

From Insight to Action

Based on preliminary data gathered from our network, we have uncovered some valuable insight into our network. For example, we found that while there had been a slight decline in the percent women clients for our network overall, percent of new women clients remained high (73%), demonstrating a continued commitment to reaching women. When looking at borrower retention, we saw that female borrower retention matched overall retention at 82%. We also found that portfolio at risk >30 days for the women’s portfolio is significantly lower than the overall PAR30 for the network (2.79% vs. 4.70%). While these findings are incredibly useful at the aggregate level, we also think that the true value of the gender performance indicators is for our network members to analyze these indicators for their own institutions, and use findings to improve service to women.


In the next year, we will be holding regional launches to enable our network – and other practitioners – to implement the full set of Gender Performance indicators and gain a deeper understanding of how women contribute to their overall performance and how well they are serving their women clients. If your institution has started to use these indicators, or is interested in doing so, let us know by leaving a comment on this post or emailing us! You can download a print-ready version of the Select Five here or if you are ready to start tracking all the indicators, you can download the full manual here.

As with many things – the first step can be the hardest. We hope you will join us on the path to measuring gender performance. If we as an industry are to help low-income women worldwide toward prosperity through financial inclusion, we need the data to serve them better.

*a review of the analysis, co-authored with the MIX, will be released shortly.

Women’s World Banking announced their Campaign Commitment as:

  • Women’s World Banking is committed to integrating the Gender Performance Indicators into its annual networking reporting, achieving 100% of network members by reporting on the GPI framework by the end of 2015
  • Women’s World Banking commits together with the Microcredit Summit Campaign to hold a series of 2 learning events during 2014 to share with practitioners and other industry stakeholders the value of using the GPI, especially the 5 Select Indicators, to help strengthen financial inclusion of low-income women and ensure we are serving these women well.

Join Women’s World Banking and State your Campaign Commitment

Join Women’s World Banking in the global coalition to help 100 million families lift themselves out of poverty – state your Campaign Commitment at

Need additional guidance in formulating your own Campaign Commitment? Refer to our Commitment Development Toolkit.

Be social with us on Facebook and Twitter (@MicroCredSummit) using the hashtags #Commit100M and #100MGoal