Ghana: What lies ahead

Representatives from REST Ethiopia lead a group discussion with a graduation program participant during the Innovations in Social Protection and Livelihoods Development program in 2014.

Lea en español *** Lisez en français


>>Authored by Paul Gostomski, Microcredit Summit Campaign Program Intern

The Microcredit Summit Campaign recently spoke with Mawutor Ablo, director of Social Protection at Ghana’s Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, and also a participant in the Campaign’s Field Learning Program last year, Innovations in Social Protection and Livelihoods Development.

The program invited representatives from Ghana, Malawi, and Mozambique on a trip to observe leading social protection programs in Ethiopia and Mexico. In our discussion with Mr. Mawutor, we spoke about the changes made to Ghana’s social protection programs since we last met and what changes may be made in the future to increase the reach of the programs and strengthen outcomes for Ghana’s poorest.

The Ghana National Household Registry

In May 2014, the World Bank continued its support to Ghana through a credit of US$50 million to Ghana’s Finance Ministry with payments dispersed annually from 2015 to 2017.

The funds are directed to the Ghana Social Opportunities Project, which aims to extend Ghana’s Labor-Intensive Public Works (LIPW) program from 49 to 60 of Ghana’s 216 districts. LIPW also aims to expand the reach of grants from 100,000 to 150,000 poor households through the Livelihood Empowerment against Poverty (LEAP) program.

In addition, the social protection systems will be strengthened through improved targeting and the establishment of the Ghana National Household Registry (GNHR).

Ato Berhanu Woldemichael in a meeting

Mr. Ato Berhanu Woldemichael, as acting State Minister with the Food Security Directorate, oversees much of the government’s role in LEAP and LIPW.

Before the implementation of the household registry system, both LIPW and LEAP screened candidate households in selected districts independently. This has not caused an overlap yet, but with the extension of the Ghana Social Opportunities Project and its intended scaling up of both programs, overlap is inevitable, leading to possible disbursement conflicts between the two programs.

The GNHR will create a database that optimizes methods used in finding and selecting program candidates through a universal survey useful for multiple social protection programs in selecting participating households. Simply put, the GNHR and its universal survey will represent a more efficient and comprehensive method for selecting households for inclusion in the national social protection programs.

Mr. Mawutor expects the registry to improve the ability to target and reach the poorest in Ghana. He compared the registry to that of the successful Cadastro Unico, the national registry of Brazil established in 2001. Three years after Cadastro Unico was created, a study showed that the poorest quartile of the population received 80 percent of all social protection programs’ benefits.

By way of comparison, the cash transfer programs in place prior to the unified registry together distributed only 64 percent of the total benefits to the poorest quartile. This improvement in targeting is something Mr. Mawutor hopes to see take place in GNHR by reducing what he termed inclusion error — the participation of households living above the targeted poverty level — in programs like LEAP and LIPW.

The Move to Mobile Money

Leaders in charge of implementing Ghana’s social protection programs are interested in finding the most efficient way to distribute the cash transfers that are at the center of these initiatives. Currently, the most common method of disbursement is through smart cards. Here, recipients of a cash transfer can go to the post office or another government entity with their smart card to have their payment added to their smart card.

Ghana would like to move from this strategy because of the high transaction costs associated with it. Also, this method does not allow recipients to transfer the money they receive to, for example, a family member in need. Instead, Ghana would like mobile money to be the primary form of receiving cash transfers.

Ghana has already partnered with MTN, a mobile network operator from South Africa, and has thus far reached a point where about 10 percent of its payments are disbursed through mobile systems.

Hoping to expand this number, Mr. Mawutor told us that Ghana would be increasing its total number of providers to four companies this year. With the expansion, Mr. Mawutor hopes to make mobile banking more accessible to poorer areas by increasing the overall number of local branches across the country.

The addition of three new operators would also produce significant returns from the added competition to the market, producing incentives for each company to provide the best service.

Mr. Mawutor Ablo during the Innovations in Social Protection, along with the Hon. Dela Sowa, Deputy Minister of Gender, Children, and Social Protection. Together they have great responsibility for the social protection programing in Ghana.

Growth by Efficiency

Social protection programs in Ghana have made many changes in the past few years and they all seem to focus on efficiency. Both the establishment of the Ghana National Household Registry and the move to mobile money aim to cut the costs associated with these programs. The registry intends to better target those among the poorest in Ghana for participation in the social protection program and reduce the costs to serve them by removing redundancies between the various initiatives.

The move to mobile money aims to make funds more accessible to beneficiaries, increasing the potential for positive outcomes resulting from the programs. With these changes, it is clear Ghana is dedicated to maximizing results.

We look forward to continuing to follow new developments from Ghana over time and continuing to be a close supporter of the work of Ghana’s Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection.


Get Inspired. Set a Goal. Make a Commitment.

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


Related reading

#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.

Lea en español *** Lisez en français


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

Resilience: Moving Past the “Scramble to Survive”

Gallery

This gallery contains 1 photo.

Excerpts from a review of the 2014 State of the Campaign Report published by NextBillion. EspañolFrançais Continue reading

New Report on Integrated Health and Microfinance in India Shows the Way Forward

Gallery

This gallery contains 4 photos.

Read it today! EspañolFrançais Continue reading

Microcredit Summit Campaign and Mexico’s Ministry of Economy Sign Agreement to Co-host the 17th Microcredit Summit; Registration Now Open

Gallery

This gallery contains 2 photos.

Lea en español (traducido por Google) *** Lisez en français (traduit par Google) Registration is now open for the 17th Microcredit Summit, a microfinance conference being held in Mexico this September 3-5. Leaders from the Microcredit Summit Campaign and the … Continue reading

Solar loans for poor people in Tanzania and Uganda

Lea en español (traducido por Google) *** Lisez en français (traduit par Google)


Social entrepreneurs in Tanzania and Uganda are innovating in the field of green energy. Read this blog post from Truelift to learn about Tujijenge Afrika, who spoke about their solar loan projects at the Convergences Global Forum last week. (And see this interview with Michaël Knaute, special advisor & board member of Convergences, that we posted last week).

2013Summit-banner_nologosAt the 2013 Partnerships against Poverty Summit that we’re co-hosting in just 2 weeks, we will be offering a workshop called “Microfinance Goes Green: Energy Inclusion to Help Alleviate Poverty.” Sebastian Groh (MicroEnergy International, MEI) is organizing this workshop, and it will include speakers Allan Sicat (MCPI), Francesca Randazzo (ADA), Wonjin Seol (ADB), Minh Cuong Le Quan (Prakti Design), and Camilla Hall (special advisor to Dr. Ashok Khosla).

Learn more about the “Going Green” workshop here: http://bit.ly/PaPGoingGreen

Register for the 2013 Summit today! http://bit.ly/Summitreg


Volunteer for a FREE registration to the Summit! We understand that the Summit fees can be costly. We hope to make the opportunity to attend as widely available as possible, so we are re-opening the volunteer application process. You can save as much as $650 on your registration fee by applying to be a volunteer at the Summit.

If you are interested in volunteering, please fill out this online form today!

Truelift

At this year’s Convergences Global Forum, Tujijenge Afrika executive director, Felistas Coutinho, discussed their solar loan projects in Tanzania and Uganda. Since 2006, Coutinho has been developing and refining the loan programs, with 1,577 clients served in the first year alone.

These projects demonstrate a successful model for product development that meets the needs of poor people through partnership and perseverance. Below are some of highlights, including challenges faced and lessons learned, as presented by Coutinho at the Global Forum.

The need:
Why are solar lanterns needed in Tanzania and Uganda? Especially in in rural areas, some benefits of solar lanterns for people living poverty are listed below:

  • Increased productivity due to availability of light in the evening
  • Children are able to study in the evenings
  • Solar lanterns offer clean, healthier light than other alternatives
  • Less expensive than other alternatives by at least 25%
  • Access to electricity fills the phone…

View original post 296 more words

Youth: Part of the Poverty Solution

Gallery

This gallery contains 2 photos.

This blog post was written by Fabiola Diaz, Events Manager at the Microcredit Summit Campaign. She attended the 2012 Global Youth Economic Opportunities Conference on Thursday, September 13, 2012. Last week, I had the great pleasure of attending the 2012 Global … Continue reading

Seeing is Believing, Part 1: Inspiring and Exciting Programs in India

Gallery

This gallery contains 2 photos.

Marcia Metcalf from Freedom from Hunger and the Health and Microfinance Alliance, co-author of the recently released report titled Integrated Health and Microfinance in India: Harnessing the Strengths of Two Sectors to Improve Health and Alleviate Poverty—State of the Field … Continue reading

Integrating Microfinance and Health for a Positive Impact on the Lives of the Poor

Gallery

This gallery contains 2 photos.

While finance and health may at first glance seem like two distant points on the development spectrum, in recent years some microfinance and health practitioners have increasingly begun to look upon each other more as partners with complementary solutions to … Continue reading

Grameen Foundation in a $162.5 Million Credit Guarantee Partnership with USAID

On Monday, USAID has announced a partnership with Grameen Foundation for a $162.5 Million Credit Guarantee. By this valuable partnership, it will easier for the microfinance institutions (MFI) to access private credit as USAID and Grameen Foundation will share the credit risk.

As we all know, effects of the actual financial crisis also has an influence on the MFIs. As the unemployment rate increases, more and more people are trying to setup a micro-enterprise and this has increased the demand for microcredit.

According to USAID and Grameen Foundation, the 3 major ways that MFIs get funding are reinvestment of repaid customer loans, loans from commercials banks and finally grants from donors. As the financial crisis has reduced the access of commercial financing to the MFIs, this partnership between USAID and Grameen Foundation will provide credit enhancement for the MFIs.

Moreover, the partnership will lend money in local currency as they believe that this will present less risk of currency market fluctuations. In the actual financial meltdown, this partnership should give a helpful hand to worldwide MFIs who will profit from this partnership, an estimated of 691, 500 micro-entrepreneurs will benefit the loans provided by these MFIs.

The Partners

Grameen Foundation is “global non-profit organization that combines microfinance, technology, and innovation to empower the world’s poorest people to escape poverty. It has established a global network of 46 partners in 25 countries that has impacted an estimated 18 million lives in Asia, Africa, the Americas, and the Middle East. Grameen Foundation was founded by Alex Counts, who began his work in microfinance with Grameen Bank founder and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Dr. Muhammad Yunus.”

USAID is an independent federal government agency that provides foreign assistance worldwide. “USAID has been the principal U.S. agency to extend assistance to countries recovering from disaster, trying to escape poverty, and engaging in democratic reforms.”

To consult the Press Release

Nokia, connecting people. All the people.

Mobile money is one of the hottest topics in the wireless world and the leaders of Nokia have understood it. According to an Article published on Reuters yesterday (read) Nokia has announced its intention to lauch mobile finance service.”Mobile-enabled financial services has tremendous growth opportunities,” said Nokia Chief Development Officer Mary McDowell to the press last Monday.