Freedom from Hunger and five microfinance institutions (MFIs) from Benin, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, India, and the Philippines tested whether MFIs could sustainably offer health-related services with positive health and social impacts for client. The health services ranged from education, health-financing (loans, savings and microinsurance), to linkages to health providers and health products.
Impact research included client interviews; focus-group discussions; a randomised controlled trial; and cost-benefit analyses at the institutional level. Positive benefits were detected at the client and household levels, including improved health knowledge andbehaviours, and in access to health services and products. These findings support the idea that MFIs offer large and growing distribution networks that can provide an integrated set of services to improve both health and financial security of poor families.
A two-pronged approach : Microfinance can be leveraged to address health care expenditure for the poor
Read the full article at The Hindu (link will open in a new window).
Indian microfinance institutions (MFI) currently serve 71 million rural poor. Pairing financial services with access to life saving health interventions such as health financing, telemedicine and other innovations has tremendous potential. But it requires further commitment and resources to reach scale. An international development organisation, Freedom from Hunger notes in a report on `Integrated Health and Microfinance in India: Harnessing the strengths of two sectors to improve health and alleviate poverty’. The report was recently released along with the Microcredit Summit Campaign and the Indian Institute of Public Health, Gandhinagar.
In 1999, Peace Corps Ecuador piloted a savings group programme called Programa de Ahorro y Crédito (PAC). In 11 years, it has grown to approximately 50,000 members in 1,500 savings groups, with very little programme investment and resources. A study by Freedom from Hunger shows that members have found many social and financial benefits through participation in the savings groups, have adapted the methodology to meet their needs, and are independently motivated to expand access by recruiting and assisting other community members to form new groups. While the study concludes with recommendations for strengthening savings group programmes, the continued existence of many mature PAC groups that received only minimal initial training and the high rate of replication of groups demonstrates that savings groups can be a popular and highly sustainable way to provide accessible and low cost financial services to the poor.
Read or download the article at the CGAP—Microfinance Gateway site (link will open in a new window).
In addition to being keenly aware of their financial bottom line, many microfinance institutions (MFIs) strive to uphold a social mission. These need not be mutually exclusive.
Adding health to microfinance speaks to the social mission, but can also improve client loyalty and competitive advantage, and be simple and low-cost. Some MFIs shy away from integrating health, as it sounds daunting and complex; however, there is no need for it to be.
Microfinance is a vital weapon in the fight against poverty, but so health protection. Now, through a new partnership between Freedom from Hunger and the MicroCredit Summit in India, 700,000 microfinance clients—plus their family members—will soon be able to protect their health as well as their finances.
Freedom from Hunger and Fellow Microfinance Leaders Release Road Map for a More Client-Centered and Responsible Microfinance Industry.
Freedom from Hunger, as a founding member of the Microfinance CEO Working Group, is proud to endorse a new Road Map to guide the microfinance industry to the highest standards of practice, putting clients first and ensuring that our shared mission of alleviating poverty is achieved in the most responsible and ethical way possible.
The Road Map outlines the vision of the Microfinance CEO Working Group, which includes the CEOs of pioneering microfinance organizations ACCION, FINCA, Grameen Foundation USA, Opportunity International, Pro Mujer, VisionFund International, and Women’s World Banking. The Map also provides practical guidelines and underscores the Group’s commitment to raising industry standards, starting with their own.
Central to the Working Group’s vision is the support for three ambitious initiatives that are helping to lay the groundwork for a more responsible, client-focused and transformative industry: the Smart Campaign, MicroFinance Transparency and the Social Performance Task Force’s universal standards for social performance management.
The Microfinance CEO Working Group members call for their valued peers in the microfinance industry to take action by endorsing these three initiatives, transforming their principles into action, and striving for better ways to provide financial services for the poor.
The Working Group welcomes your comments and feedback. Please contact Meghan Greene, manager of the Microfinance CEO Working Group, at email@example.com.
Confessions of Two Adult Educators—It's harder than it looks, but the payoff is priceless when done right.
Read or download the article at Interaction's Monday Developments Magazines (link will open in a new window).
Have you ever watched some -one make a great discovery? Maria Matilde Olazabal did in Chiapas,
Mexico, while training a group of Chamula women to explore different ways they could improve their savings and define their own saving goals. One woman turned to the group and said, “What we are doing here is dreaming that we can reach anything with our own effort. I am not used to dreaming. I like it!”...
Get the article at Global Microcredit Summit 2011 (link will open in a new window).
Microfinance clients and their families often face health challenges that impede their ability to use financial services to improve their lives. Health shocks are among the most common reasons that clients fail to repay, save, and remain active customers. For the benefit of both their social and financial bottom lines, many microfinance providers have felt compelled to help clients prevent and/or treat common health problems. They have developed a variety of responses, ranging from preventive health education to healthcare financing (commitment savings, emergency loans and insurance) to provision of health services and products. This paper surveys the range of experience of microfinance providers of all types and geographies, as well as the available evidence of impacts for clients, families, and communities and the cost and benefits to the microfinance providers who offer health protection options. Lessons for practice and ideas for experimentation and research are offered with the full expectation that integration of microfinance and health protection will become increasingly common in poverty alleviation programs.
Baseline Study of Saving for Change in Mali: Results from the Segou Expansion Zone and Existing SFC Sites
Saving for Change (SfC) is a community-based savings group program designed and implemented by Oxfam America and Freedom from Hunger in Mali, Senegal, Cambodia, El Salvador and Guatemala. This baseline study of the Saving for Change (SfC) program in Mali is the result of a collaborative research effort in 2009-2010 by Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) and the Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology (BARA) at the University of Arizona. This innovative methodology combines qualitative and quantitative approaches to create a nuanced picture of the current SfC program and to document the baseline situation in an SfC expansion zone in the Segou region of Mali, where a randomized control trial (RCT) is currently underway to measure the socioeconomic impacts of the program over a three-year period (2009-2012).