Video Corner | Shazia Abbas on microfinance creating entrepreneurs

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Shazia Abbas of Micro Options (Pakistan) discusses her organization, the role of microfinance to help end poverty, and the lessons learned at the 18th Microcredit Summit with Miranda Beshara, editor of the Arabic Microfinance Gateway. Micro Options provides microcredit services for agriculture, livestock, and alternative energy (i.e., solar and bio-gas), combining access to capital with skills training with a focus on women and youth.

Abbas says that the Summit is a great forum and the biggest networking event for the region and globally. On her experience in Abu Dhabi, she appreciates “learning how other people are doing this work differently, and especially the opportunities we can leverage. That was wonderful. Every session is very important, and I was confused which to pick and not to pick,” Abbas adds with a chuckle. “I will definitely take some learning that I can cooperate at my organization so that we can deliver even better.”

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ESAF Microfinance commits to comprehensive services for clients

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What is a Commitment + Actions to end extreme povertyThe 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.”

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

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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

graph_MDG2-out-of-school childrenTarget 2.A: Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling

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.

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

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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.In just two weeks, RESULTS Educational Fund, the parent organization of the Microcredit Summit Campaign, will celebrate its 35th anniversary with the 2015 RESULTS International Conference in Washington, D.C. Attendees will hear from leading experts, activists, and policymakers on the challenges and solutions to ending poverty. Join World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus.

We invite you to join in the festivities and attend our workshop called “Partnerships to End Poverty: Health, Government, and Financial Services” on Sunday, July 19th at 4:30 – 6:00 PM. Our session will focus on integrated health and microfinance and linking the graduation model and conditional cash transfers (CCTs). Sonja Kelly (CFI) will moderate a panel discussion with Olumide Elegbe (FHI 360), Dr. DSK Rao, and Larry Reed. Join us to learn why these are key pathways to help end extreme poverty and how you can influence the global development agenda. Español | Français | Continue reading

Equitas commits to improve focus on clients and service coverage

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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.

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Grama Vidiyal commits to expanding health services to clients

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Creating a “window for the poor” to financial and other services.

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

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

  • Provide an additional 150,000 clients with financial services in FY15
  • Help 1,050,000 community members through Grama Vidiyal’s empowerment program.
  • Organize 720 health camps for clients, screening 300,000 members.
  • Provide 10,000 clients with discounted consultation/treatment in partner hospitals.
  • Provide health education to 80,000 client families (or community).
  • Give access to health related products and medicines to 150,000 clients.

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Commitment and creativity in reaching the poorest in remote areas

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Lea en español *** Lisez en français The Microcredit Summit Campaign would like to thank everyone who participated in the Virtual Conference on May 2, 3, and 4 entitled “Extending the Conversation on Reaching the Poorest: Another look at the … Continue reading

Breaking the Stovepipe Syndrome to Reach the Extreme Poor

The following is re-posted with permission from Microlinks’s blog. Click here to see the original. You can also watch a screencast of the March 21 After Hours seminar and a post-seminar interviews with panelists Jaya Sarkar (Trickle Up) and Jan Maes (The SEEP Network). 
This blog post was written by Carine Roenen of Fonkoze and Sabina Rogers and Bridget Dougherty of the Microcredit Summit Campaign who attended the recent After Hours Seminar, “Lessons Learned From Sequenced, Integrated Strategies of Economic Strengthening of the Poorest.”
“Economic strengthening” is all about breaking with the “microenterprise myth” that everyone, even the ultra poor, can start a business—that all they need is a loan. Building on a deeper understanding of the idiosyncrasies that characterize extreme poverty, organizations have developed promising interventions that incorporate “push” strategies that help build assets for those who cannot make ends meet and “pull” strategies to bring the excluded into the system.
During USAID’s Microlinks After Hours Seminar “Lessons Learned From Sequenced, Integrated Strategies of Economic Strengthening of the Poorest” on March 21, 2012, Aude de Montesquiou (CGAP), Jaya Sarkar (Trickle Up), and Jan Maes (The SEEP Network) presented integrated strategies that aim to meet the needs of the ultra poor so that they can negotiate their way out of poverty.
Understanding ultra-poor populations and developing appropriate interventions
“A household in extreme poverty is in a state of bankruptcy—not capable of covering its minimum expenditures for daily survival—and the sequenced strategies we are discussing today are very similar to remedies used for bankruptcies:  cash injection to pay for most critical needs followed by debt reduction and asset (re)building.” – Jan Maes, The SEEP Network
pull quote reading being ultra poor should become unacceptableTo overcome the roadblocks of the past, organizations promoting the economic rights of the poorest realize that they need to better understand who their clients are and what their psychological, social and economic characteristics are. De Montesquiou explained that many among the extreme poor lack what is necessary to be successful entrepreneurs, such as confidence, knowledge, assets, and tools. Maes stressed that, even among the extreme poor, we need to recognize that there is a wide range between “destitute” and “struggling to make ends meet.” We need to look at the causes of their poverty and the nature and degree of their vulnerability. By understanding this nuance, we can design appropriate activities, programs, and services that integrate the right components (e.g. asset transfers, handholding, and financial services) with the proper sequencing to address these vulnerabilities.
From pilots to proof-of-concept
Organizations participating in the CGAP Ford Foundation Graduation Program are testing this model of integration and sequencing. De Montesquiou presented qualitative and monitoring results for Fonkoze, their partner MFI in Haiti. The Fonkoze Foundation developed its Chemen Lavi Miyò (CLM), or “Pathway to a Better Life,” program to provide a multipronged livelihood protection and promotion service to carefully target ultra-poor women in rural Haiti. Specifically, CLM provided the women with assets for entrepreneurial use, enterprise training, health services through Partners in Health, housing support, a consumption stipend, and social links with village elites—all facilitated by the close support of a CLM case manager.  This push strategy decreased food insecurity among participants by over 50%. Severe wasting among CLM children decreased from 13% to 4% and Personal Potential Index (PPI) scores show 16% of participants passed the $1/day line. After 18 months, more than 90% of the participants were ready to participate in Fonkoze’s regular microfinance program. Thanks to support from the MasterCard FoundationConcern Worldwide, the Haitian Timoun Foundation, and Fondation Kanpe, the program has now been scaled up to include more than 2,000 families.
In her presentation, Jaya Sarkar described Trickle Up’s challenge as “struggling to make our initiatives more effective” and adapting a series of interventions in their graduation pilot in India. Since 2009, the graduation model has been Trickle Up’s standard approach in India. Now, they are mainstreaming learning into the rest of the organization by effectively using the push strategy developed through the pilot project to learn about the ultra poor and better designing pull strategies through other programs. When Trickle Up moved from the pilot phase to proof-of-concept, they shifted their focus, putting an emphasis on self-help groups (SHGs). They found, as Sarkar described, impact in unexpected areas. In particular, they found that groups were taking collective action. SHGs in Mali were creating a social safety net for members and creating access to financial services for non-members in their community, thus enlarging the population that directly benefited from the intervention. In India, they found SHGs are taking action on social issues, improving public shared space, and advocating on behalf of others for better service from banks.
Call to action
“What do the ultra poor need?” asked Jan Maes. That is the key question, and to figure this out, integrated strategies will be needed to learn from a variety of sectors such as microfinance, social safety nets, market development, protection and promotion, women rights, and others.  The STEP UP Initiative from The SEEP Network aims to connect these silos of practice, breaking the “stovepipe syndrome,” to enable multidisciplinary learning. Maes encourages practitioners to join STEP UP to enhance discussion on these issues.