Meet RESULTS, “one of the best-kept secrets in development”

Regular, everyday Americans at the halls of congress

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>>Authored by Sabina Rogers, Communications and Relationships Manager, Microcredit Summit Campaign

In a 2013 article, New York Times opinion writer, David Bornstein, wrote that RESULTS “remains one of the best-kept secrets in development.” RESULTS (and RESULTS Educational Fund, from which the Microcredit Summit came and into which the Microcredit Summit Campaign operations have been merged) is a grassroots advocacy organization founded in 1980. It has international affiliates in the UK, Canada, Australia, France (and Belgium), Japan, Korea, and Mexico; and the RESULTS family coordinates advocacy efforts to remarkable effect.

Never heard of RESULTS? Recall the poverty measurement legislation in the mid-2000s that requires USAID to direct at least 50 percent of their microenterprise funds to those living on less than $1 a day? Legislation that also prompted the creation of USAID’s Poverty Assessment Tool? That was RESULTS and allies.

The U.N. International Year of Microcredit in 2005 and the Nobel Peace Prize for Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank? That was RESULTS volunteers and the Microcredit Summit Campaign lobbying year after year for consideration. (FYI: The Year of Microcredit was established by the UN in 1998, the year after the 1997 Microcredit Summit, through the efforts of the Bangladesh Ambassador to the U.N., in recognition of the Summit’s 2005 deadline.)

Maternal and child legislation that would put the U.S. on track to help end preventable maternal and child deaths globally and ensure key reforms so every dollar we invest has greater impact? RESULTS has lobbied for maternal and child health funding year in and year out for 32 years, and child death rates have plummeted from 40,000 a day in 1984 to 16,000 a day today. More recently, RESULTS helped craft the Reach Every Mother and Child Act of 2015.

Pressuring Congress to preserve the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC), which are our country’s most successful anti-poverty programs for children? That was RESULTS.

Bornstein reported that World Bank President Jim Kim said, “RESULTS has such a lean and efficient model that nobody knows about them. They’re incredibly dedicated and very knowledgeable about the issues. It’s remarkable how much they’ve done and how few people have any idea about it.”

RESULTS (the 501(c)(4), non tax-deductible arm) and RESULTS Educational Fund (the 501(c)(3), tax-deductible arm) work hand-in-hand to produce cutting edge research to back up policy demands, which RESULTS volunteers take to Congress and other countries’ national parliaments, the World Bank, and bilateral donor agencies such as USAID to influence policy.

RESULTS takes on issues that are on the leading edge of policy and advocacy and brings them into the main stream.

Last year, RESULTS volunteers pushed Congress hard during the appropriations process and succeeded in reversing a total of $495 million in proposed cuts to global poverty focused programs and instead increased funding for these programs by $70 million. This in a political climate where partisanship is reaching its zenith and Congress is widely regarded as broken.

Citizens in the U.S. and all over the world have had a hand in making change through the RESULTS model for 35 years. RESULTS will soon be launching a new five-year strategic plan, and it will continue to advance an advocacy agenda in the financial inclusion space, helping to accelerate toward the end of extreme poverty by 2030.

As Larry Reed and Joanne Carter explained in their April 29th letter, “Financial inclusion and pathways out of poverty are a central part of this [strategic] plan and a critical part of reaching the 2030 goal. The powerful holistic financial inclusion model that the Campaign has been developing and driving with partners will become a centerpiece of RESULTS’ advocacy agenda on economic opportunity.”

In his acceptance speech for the Congressional Gold Medal in 2014, Muhammad Yunus credited RESULTS with having been “the most critical partner for microcredit,” as Bornstein put it. And, they were a critical partner because of the power of a 1000 volunteers raising their voice together to advocate for important policy changes. Yunus recounted a story from his early days as a PhD student in the U.S., walking the halls of Congress and recognizing the importance of citizens standing up for what they believe in.

Let’s close with this look back at a keynote address by Muhammad Yunus at the 2010 Regional Microcredit Summit in Nairobi. He tells the assembled delegates “This is the age of making ‘impossibles’ possible. It is us who decide,” he said, and it is us — citizens — who need to contribute to making change possible. Yunus exhorted us “that we can all work together rather than complaining about lousy government, saying they can’t deliver. There’s no way they can deliver — no matter what — unless we as citizens come together and do it as individuals, together.”

This is the credo upon which RESULTS is founded. RESULTS is making a difference in the world by influencing political decisions — both in the halls of your government as well as in implementing organizations — that will bring an end to poverty.

Changes ahead for the Microcredit Summit Campaign

Featured

Dignitaries who attended the 1997 Microcredit Summit.

Dignitaries who attended the 1997 Microcredit Summit.

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>>Authored by Larry Reed, Director, Microcredit Summit Campaign

Twenty years ago Sam Daley-Harris came to our offices at Opportunity International — where I then worked — and told us of his plans to hold a Microcredit Summit. Working with Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank and John Hatch, founder of FINCA, he would gather leaders from around the world to inform them of the important role microcredit and other financial services could play in helping people living in poverty. At the time, neither the UN nor the World Bank nor any national governments had any policies related to microfinance. Sam wanted to change that.

We were intrigued by his idea, so we started asking more about his organization. He represented a grassroots lobbying group called RESULTS, which mobilized citizen volunteers to advocate for issues related to poverty and hunger to their representatives in Congress. He told us about how, in 1990, RESULTS volunteers had held 500 candlelight vigils around the country to support the World Summit for Children.

We left the meeting excited by the prospect but not sure whether Sam was going to be able to pull off such a big event. We went back to our own agendas and didn’t give much thought to the Summit until a month or two before the event when we began to notice that all our conversations with colleagues in microfinance included discussions about the upcoming Summit. Everyone we knew was planning to go, and when we looked at the line-up of speakers, we saw why.

Sam and the RESULTS team had somehow convinced five heads of state, even more spouses of heads of state, the President of the World Bank, the Treasury Secretary, and many heads of UN agencies to speak at the first Summit in Washington. We started scrambling to figure out how we could get noticed at what was becoming the largest international event ever organized for microcredit.

The participants in the first Summit endorsed the goal of reaching 100 million of the world’s poorest families with microcredit by 2005. This became the focus of the first phase of the Microcredit Summit Campaign, expanding the use of microcredit as a development tool as widely as possible. When the Campaign first started tracking microfinance outreach in 1997, our industry was reaching 13 million borrowers, of whom 7.6 million lived in extreme poverty.

During the next nine years, according to David Roodman, the Microcredit Summit Campaign served as “a major force behind the global microfinance movement, combining savvy publicity with behind-the-scenes lobbying for funding.” After coordinated lobbying by RESULTS and their allies around the world, the UN declared 2005 to be the “International Year of Microcredit,” and the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded its 2006 Peace Prize to Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank. By 2007, the Campaign had reached its goal, reporting 155 million total microfinance borrowers, of whom 107 million were among the poorest in their countries.

Anticipating reaching the goal, the Campaign entered its second phase by setting two new goals at its 2006 Global Summit in Halifax:

  1. Reaching 175 million poorest families with microfinance
  2. Helping 100 million families lift themselves out of extreme poverty

With these new goals, the Campaign began focusing not just on the number of clients, but also on how access to microfinance affects the lives of families who borrow. We stressed the importance of measuring poverty levels of clients and recording progress over time, framing micro financial services as tools to help achieve the larger goal of ending extreme poverty.

In many ways, this message has become more widely accepted. The World Bank has made ending extreme poverty by 2030 and promoting shared prosperity its two guiding goals. As a key step to achieving these goals, the Bank has also adopted a target of reaching universal financial access by 2020. The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), ratified by 193 nations this past January, have adopted the target of eradicating poverty, in all its forms, everywhere. Making a broad range of financial services available to all is one of the key targets for achieving the SDGs.

On the other hand, we have not had as much success in getting financial providers to expand service to the world’s poorest. As microfinance has grown more commercial, it has served proportionally fewer clients in extreme poverty. In fact, our numbers show that the number of borrowers living in extreme poverty has declined for each of the last three years. These trends, combined with a funding environment that has much less appetite for organizations providing public goods for microfinance, has caused us to rethink our role and structure.

In our last State of the Campaign Report, we identified Six Pathways for microfinance to reach those in extreme poverty and support their movement out of poverty. These Pathways all involve integrating financial services with other important development services, and many of them have significant connections with the work of governments.

At our most recent Summit in Abu Dhabi, our Leadership Council identified four priorities to help drive the future of our work on financial and social inclusion. These include transformative social protection and graduation programs, risk management by the poor, community-led finance, and rural development strategies. What they all share in common is the aim to help people move out and stay out of extreme poverty, addressing their unique vulnerabilities and combining public and private action to make essential services available to and affordable for those living in poverty.

We saw that our future work as the Microcredit Summit Campaign would have significant overlap with the work of our parent organization, RESULTS Educational Fund. As we called for governments and multilateral organizations to tear down the silos in their organizations to combine financial services with other developmental services like social protection, health, housing, and education, we saw that we needed to do the same thing in our own organization. Therefore, in order to strengthen our message and reduce annual recurring costs, we have decided to merge our work with that of RESULTS.

In this new structure, the Microcredit Summit Campaign will no longer operate as a standalone organization. Much of our team will be moving into positions with RESULTS, and we will continue to highlight the work carried out by innovators and leaders who design financial services that reach those in extreme poverty and that can show progress in helping families move out of poverty.

We will continue to advance the priorities of our Leadership Council, integrating them into the work RESULTS does to advocate for policies and resources to eliminate poverty through its three pillars of health, education, and economic opportunity.

Through RESULTS, we will continue to play our unique convening role. We will bring together the ever expanding community of institutions, companies, government agencies, and individuals that can provide the financial and other goods and services that address the unique needs of those living in poverty.

We now embark on the third phase of the Campaign. It will involve an advocacy agenda to link financial services to other key development services so that those living in poverty will have the resources and cash flows needed to provide for themselves, sustain the health of their families, and educate their children. We do so with the same audaciousness that Sam had when he started both RESULTS and the Microcredit Summit Campaign. We do so knowing that we will not succeed until extreme poverty no longer exists on our planet.

Read the official announcement: An Update from Joanne Carter, executive director of RESULTS and RESULTS Educational Fund, and Larry Reed, director of the Microcredit Summit Campaign

See answers to common questions (French and Spanish) that we anticipate you may have. If you have other question we didn’t think of, send an email to info@microcreditsummit.org.

Post-MDG 2: Bringing the “last mile” children into our schools

MDG 2

Millennium Development Goals: 2015 Progress Chart
Published articles to date: Introduction | MDG 1 | MDG 2 | MDG 3 | MDG 4

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The United Nations recently issued The Millennium Development Goals Report, 2015, the latest assessment of progress towards the eight MDGs. In short, they have had mixed results. This article is part of a blog series reflecting on the MDGs and the U.N. report. These are produced in partnership with our colleagues at RESULTS (our parent organization).

MDG 2 is focused on primary school enrollment for children everywhere, including the poorest of the poor. The children of tens of millions microfinance clients may be some of the “last milers” still left behind, still excluded from primary school, and many MFIs are actively working to solve the access gap in their own corner of the world. For example, ESAF Microfinance (India) has just launched a Commitment to reach at least 2,000 children with educational programs for academic growth and value education. Fafidess (Guatemala) committed to offer education loans to their clients.


>>Authored by William C. Smith, Right to Education Index Senior Associate, RESULTS Educational Fund

Millennium Development Goal Achievements

Target 2.A: Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling

MDG 2 - Global out-of-school children of primary school age & Primary school net enrollment rate in sub-Saharan Africa

From The Millennium Development Goals Report, 2015

During the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) period, the world saw a huge surge in the number of students enrolled in primary school. In 2015, an estimated 91 percent of all primary age students are enrolled in primary school with the largest increases in enrollment over the 15-year period found in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia.

Worldwide, this impressive expansion in access has cut the number of out-of-school children by approximately half, from 100 million in 2000 to 57 million in 2015. This is especially impressive when seen in light of the rapidly expanding growth rate of the primary-school-age population in many regions.

Although the world fell short of the MDG 2 target, the growth in enrollment over the 15-year MDG period outpaced the decade before 2000, ensuring that a greater number of children have access to the education essential to their well-being and that of the wider community. These results clearly indicate that when attention and resources are strategically directed they can make a difference.

Equity Concerns

As impressive and important as the rapid expansion from the MDG period was, there are several concerns as the world moves beyond the MDGs to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs, also referred to as the “Global Goals”). While MDG 2 focused on universal enrollment in primary education the education, SDG (#4) attempts to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”

The general shift from access to quality makes one wonder, who will be left behind? As the SDGs move forward, emphasis on the goals last two words “for all” is essential. Unfortunately, bringing the final 9 percent of students, the last milers, into school is challenging and expensive. Recent trends suggest that as the world moves forward to address the differences in student achievement and education quality, those left behind by our inability to completely close the access gap are further disadvantaged.

The challenge of reaching the last milers is illustrated by the stagnating global enrollment rate. Between 2000 and 2007 the global primary net enrollment rate quickly increased from 83 percent to 90 percent. Over the last seven years, however, the rate moved slightly from 90 percent to 91 percent. The missing 9 percent represent 57 million primary age children out of school.

Based on estimates made in 2012, 43 percent of these 57 million children are expected to never go to school. Identifying who these children are and including them in the education system is paramount to reaching the SDGs.

The Last Milers

The last milers represent students that have yet to be included in the rapid expansion of education from the MDGs. The number of last milers are difficult to calculate as they are at times invisible to society and living in extreme poverty.

Number of out-of-school children of primary school age, selected regions, 1990-2015 (millions)

From The Millennium Development Goals Report, 2015

Surveys suggest that these remaining out-of-school children are more likely to be female, live in a rural setting, or have a disability. Students in the poorest quintile are less likely to enroll in school or complete school if they do.

For example, while 9 percent of primary age children overall are not enrolled in primary school, 22 percent of children in the poorest quintile remain out of school. And, of those who do enter primary school, nearly 35 percent of children in the poorest quintile do not complete primary school. For the poorest 20 percent of children worldwide, this means that for every child in school, his or her sibling will not complete primary school while nearly 90 percent of children in the wealthiest 20 percent move onto secondary school.

Accessing education may be increasingly challenging for children in poor families in some areas. Countries such as Kenya, Uganda, and Ghana have seen a sharp increase in private schools that price these families out of education. When national governments abdicate responsibility and see private education as a substitution for public education, the well-researched equity concerns with private education are likely to leave the last milers on the outside looking in.

In addition to the groups mentioned above, children in conflict areas and children of refugees are especially struggling to enjoy the benefits of education. For example, the conflict in Syria not only reduced the enrollment rates of children in the country, but refugees that fled Syria found education in refugee camps sparse. Estimates from refugee camps in Lebanon from 2013 place the enrollment rate of children at approximately 12 percent, a sharp contrast from the 91 percent global number.

Collective Will

Ensuring that the last milers have access to education is a challenge to our collective will. The remaining 9 percent represent those with the highest per capita cost to access. A large financing gap remains in education globally with resources moving away from improving access and away from primary education. This trend suggests that in the coming years, reaching these last milers will be challenging, at best.

The transition of funding beyond primary education is evident in the decrease in official development assistance (ODA) from European Union institutions. ODA targeting basic education has fallen from 50 percent in 2002-2004 to 43 percent in 2009-2011. Furthermore, the focus on quality over access is illustrated by two developments. New projects funded by the United Kingdom’s Department of International Development (DFID) prioritize student achievement as the primary measure for education system quality, and the World Bank has recently shift education resources to results-based financing that focuses on student literacy and numeracy.

While quality is important, the stagnating enrollment rates from the past seven years and the shift in attention and resources away from access and toward quality, makes one question whether the last milers will be left behind in the SDG era.


About the author

William C Smith

William C. Smith is a Senior Associate with RESULTS Educational Fund where he is developing the Right to Education Index (RTEI). The index will eventually provide a globally comparative alternative measure to national education quality while identifying specific target areas for countries to address. Prior to this position he completed a dual title Ph.D. in Educational Theory and Policy and Comparative International Education at The Pennsylvania State University and was a Thomas J. Alexander Fellow at the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD). His research addressing education’s role in international development and educator based testing for accountability has resulted in over 15 academic and policy publications. William is the editor a forthcoming book (Spring 2016) in the Oxford Studies in Comparative Education Series titled “The Global Testing Culture: Shaping Education Policy, Perspectives, and Practice.”