Empower women through financial access & service

by World Vision
Empower women through financial access & service
Empower women through financial access & service
Empower women through financial access & service
Empower women through financial access & service
Empower women through financial access & service
Empower women through financial access & service
Empower women through financial access & service
Empower women through financial access & service
Vesina farming in Malawi
Vesina farming in Malawi

Thank you for walking alongside women through the Women’s Economic Empowerment Fund. With new opportunities and resources, women are growing their incomes, becoming leaders, and building stronger futures. Evidence shows us that empowering women with financial resources and income opportunities benefits families, communities, and entire nations. The U.N. estimates that if women in rural areas had the same agricultural assets, education, and access to markets as men, the number of hungry people in the world could be reduced by 100–150 million. Still, many women in rural areas face inequalities that hold them back from reaching their potential. But when women have the tools they need to thrive, they become powerful agents of change against poverty and malnutrition. Part of our programs focused on agricultural communities are called THRIVE and include Empowered Worldview training (EWV), which builds confidence and self-reliance by teaching about each person’s intrinsic worth and abilities. From that foundation, participants are equipped with financial tools and agricultural training to pursue their goals. By giving to the Women’s Economic Empowerment Fund, you partner with women on their journey to greater self-reliance. This report highlights what women have accomplished in Malawi, Rwanda, Zambia, and Honduras in FY20. May you be encouraged by the strides women are making toward fuller lives for themselves and their families.



At first, women in Rwanda weren’t sure they could afford to save money. But now, 9,232 women savings group members have savings for emergencies and can access loans to invest in small businesses. In FY20, 2,098 women received loans from VisionFund, World Vision’s microfinance network (average loan value $45), and 114 women were trained on household financial management (bringing the life-of-project total to 5,228). Participants reported greater social cohesion, less isolation, and more self-confidence. Other life-of-project (FY17- FY21) achievements include:

• 7,903 women trained in EWV (97% of target).

• 147 women led EWV trainings (74% of target).

• 7,453 women reported improved attitudes toward future financial prospects (91% of target).



In Malawi, women make up over 60% of the total THRIVE participants. Both women and men attest to the rapid economic growth that happens when women are empowered—starting in their own households. In EWV, women learned to identify barriers to the success of their businesses and develop solutions. The majority of women (94%) reported greater self-confidence and self-reliance after participating. With access to financial resources, women felt more freedom to invest in income-generating opportunities, and their households are enjoying more consistent and diverse diets. Other life-of-project (FY18-FY22) achievements:

• 10,819 women trained in EWV (113% of target).

• 6,864 women trained in financial management (72% of target).

• 10,827 women took loans from their savings groups for income-generating opportunities (average loan $76).



In Zambia, 53% of THRIVE farmers are women. They’ve started new income-generating activities like raising goats, corn farming, and growing fruits and vegetables. THRIVE supports their financial growth by facilitating commercial producer groups (7,812 members, 50% women) that enable farmers to access better markets and better prices through group buying and selling. THRIVE also started a mentoring program based on EWV, because one of the best ways to encourage a woman’s personal and financial growth is to connect her with another woman who is already achieving her goals. Other life-of-project (FY17-21) achievements:

• 6,231 women trained in EWV (79% of target).

• 6,684 women joined savings groups (84% of target).

• 5,008 women took loans from their savings groups for income-generating opportunities (average loan $27).



Though the state of emergency in Honduras caused by COVID-19 prevented EWV refresher training to reinforce behavior change in FY20, participants demonstrated the value of previous training by continuing to save, invest, and seek new opportunities in the face of economic challenges. In FY20, women THRIVE participants showed a 28% increase (since FY19) in their income and built their savings to $35,561, an increase of $12,801 over the beginning of the fiscal year. Participants (men and women) also saved $21,003 as an emergency fund to help in the case of natural disasters. Other life-of-project (FY17-FY22) achievements:

• 8,681 women trained in EWV (100% of target).

• 4,508 women with improved attitudes toward future financial prospects (52% of target).

• 3,718 women took loans from their savings groups for income-generating opportunities.

Kandindi's improved her farm through savings
Kandindi's improved her farm through savings
Grace at her farm in Zambia
Grace at her farm in Zambia
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Charlotte at her store
Charlotte at her store

“I was scared of losing my children to malnutrition,” says Charlotte, a 19-year-old refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo, which neighbors Zambia. Charlotte is an adorable young mother of three, two girls and a boy, ages 6 months to 6 years. She lives in a refugee settlement in Northern Zambia with over 14,000 Congolese nationals who fled their country due to civil war. “I never ever thought that I would one day run away from my own country and become a scrounger in another. I had big dreams for myself and my family,” she says.

As a child, Charlotte longed to become a businesswoman after completing her education. Sadly, her hopes were shattered when she lost her parents and was forced out of school into marriage at the age of 13. Charlotte arrived in Zambia three years ago while expecting her second child. Unfortunately, her husband did not make it. Although she had heard about refugee life, she had no idea just how challenging it would be. “When we got here, we were given a tent, two blankets, a mat, some pots, a bucket, a torch and monthly food rations which included a 7.5kg bag of beans, three 750ml bottles of cooking oil, 500g of salt and a 75kg bag of corn meal to start our new life,” she recalls.

While Charlotte was happy about being in safe place, she could barely make ends meet for her family. “I had no source of income and the food ration was never enough to see us through the month. I had to exchange some of our [other] rations [for] groceries,” Charlotte explains. A year ago, problems forced Charlotte into an affair with a married man who abandoned her soon after she fell pregnant and gave birth to twins. “Life was hard. We sometimes lived on a meal a day or slept on empty stomachs. Three of my children ended up having severe malnutrition and were in and out of the hospital. One of the twins died from malnutrition,” she says.

Fortunately, Charlotte’s circumstances dramatically changed for the better when World Vision’s Economic Empowerment work came to the area. Through its robust livelihood program, World Vision gave her and other vulnerable families in the camp start-up capital of $30, plus training in financial literacy to help improve their livelihood. “It was a miracle,” she says. Upon receiving the grant, Charlotte decided to follow her childhood dream of becoming a businesswoman and started a small grocery store. She also used part of the money to buy some locally grown nutritious foods for her children.

In no time, Charlotte was making about 10% of her initial capital per day and was able to provide for her family. In less than two months, her children were on the road to recovery. “I am very grateful to World Vision for their kindness. Their support saved me and my children from the hand of death. I am no longer a laughingstock in this camp. I am now respected and looked upon by many,” she adds, smiling.

Charlotte and her children
Charlotte and her children
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Sahinoor sewing masks with Shourav (L) & Shanta (R
Sahinoor sewing masks with Shourav (L) & Shanta (R

“Just the week before [the] lockdown started in our area I filled my store with new goods. I brought mostly the kitchen items like [the] electric kettle, fan, iron, gas stove, and rice cooker. I invested all the savings that I earned from my tailoring store,” says Sahinoor, 35, an entrepreneur and a single mother who is raising her two children Shanta, 15, and Shourav, 7. She lives in a slum in Khulna, a city in southern Bangladesh.

Sahinoor’s first husband was a boatman and a porter, who abandoned her when Shanta was five. Seven years ago, Sahinoor married another man, but their marriage lasted less than two years. Her second husband left after Sahinoor delivered Shourav because she became severely sick following childbirth. Left to provide for her two children, Sahinoor worked several years peeling the plastic lining from paper bags used to hold chemicals for the shrimp processing plants.

The chemical in the plastic burned her eyes and skin and made Sahinoor sick. She could not work regularly and was forced to pull Shanta out of school. Shanta accompanied her mother and worked in the factory for one year for their survival. “Shanta was sick when we found her,” says Abeda, a World Vision Child Protection project manager. World Vision offered Shanta the Life-Skills Based Education course, which helped her dream again with confidence. After receiving tailoring training, a sewing machine and fabrics from World Vision’s Child Protection Project, Shanta started her tailoring shop and contributed to the family income. “Soon Shanta taught her mother Sahinoor sew-ing skills, [which] doubled their family income,” continues Abeda. “This stable income helped Shanta and her brother return to school. Also, Sahinoor saved a portion of their daily income, reinvested her savings and increased capital.”

Sahinoor was sewing dresses from home when the government declared a lockdown in their area to prevent a coronavirus outbreak. Through her connection with World Vision, Sahinoor learned about educating her community about the pandemic. She delivered key information about the coronavirus to her customers using the leaflets she received from World Vision. “I encourage them to stay at home unless they have an emergency need and always to wear masks while they go out,” says Sahinoor. “Many customers reported that masks were not available in the local market, so I started making masks with fabric and selling those to my customers at reduced prices. I distributed the masks for free when anyone did not have money to buy it. I told them to wash their hands with soap and running water for 20 seconds and to use a handkerchief or tissue paper while coughing or sneezing. I also encouraged customers to maintain social distancing,” she adds.

“Sahinoor treats her customers with respect, and thus, she became a good entrepreneur very rapidly. Her neighbors also respect her. Community leaders also trust Sahinoor and assign her to liaise with local government offices for cascading the government’s services to families,” says Abeda.

Sahinoor is thankful for World Vision’s training and support. She now earns 300 takas ($3.50) daily, allowing her to take care of her children and provide them with food, clothing and schooling. She also looks for ways to support her community. “I want to help my neighbors, to make their life easy and protected in the middle of this corona-virus outbreak,” says Sahinoor gratefully.

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Our work has been impacted as COVID-19 has forced countries to implement lock downs and restrict movement. World Vision is responding to COVID-19 with a global response providing hand-washing and other safety messaging, supporting health systems and workers with protective equipment, and supporting children impacted by COVID-19 through education, child protection, food security, and livelihoods. For more information check out our GlobalGiving COVID-19 project: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/coronavirus-outbreak-world-visions-response/



Women in developing countries, especially those living in rural areas, often encounter gender-specific obstacles to economic mobility— such as lack of access to financial services and imbalances in family caregiving—that prevent them and their communities from flourishing.

The Women’s Empowerment Fund (WEF) aims to build the resilience of women and their families, improve gender equality, and support the development of livelihoods by providing vulnerable women increased access to high-quality financial services and education.

The first phase of this two-phase project focused on growing loan capital for women entrepreneurs to invest in small businesses and farms. Phase 2 launched in FY19 with the goal of strengthening services to women by linking them to savings groups, offering insurance products specifically for women, and expanding women’s financial training.

Recent research measuring the holistic impact of microloans through VisionFund Armenia found that a single loan frequently creates a raft of additional benefits for women and their children in the form of better nutrition, health, housing, access to education—even family cohesion and spiritual well-being. In a March survey conducted by VisionFund Myanmar, 99% of respondents likewise reported that receiving a loan provided at least one benefit to their children, while 73% reported three or more benefits.

In FY19, the WEF provided loan capital and expanded service areas in Armenia, Honduras, Malawi, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Uganda.

Thank you for your commitment to empowering women.

Accomplishments during this reporting period at some of the MFIs in the fund included:

• In Armenia, an analysis of the WEF portfolio revealed that clients’ involvement in supply chain networks created indirect benefits for 651 women and 398 children, in addition to the 156 women and 468 children directly impacted by WEF loans.

• In Honduras, a loan offer was designed specifically for women, with a special focus on single mothers living in rural communities. Loans range from $25 to $650, and clients receive financial education as part of the funding package. In FY19, $122,079 in loans was disbursed to 108 women, all of whom have dependent children.

• In Malawi, new Savings Group Linkage Loans provided 19 savings groups and 331 clients—75% women—capital for improving their livelihoods.

• At the end of FY19, 86% of VisionFund Myanmar’s 190,000 clients were women. WEF loans also helped create 8,891 jobs in Myanmar between April and September 2019.

• In Sri Lanka, a leadership program was created for 33 current WEF clients and other enterprising women.


IMPACT STORY – Producer groups raise poultry and hope

Chickens are now a familiar sight in Mbuyuni village in Tanzania. But it wasn’t always that way. The introduction of poultry farming has transformed the community, providing income and food.

Mbuyuni village is largely composed of the Maasai people, who traditionally do not eat chickens or eggs. It was difficult to convince them chickens could be a source of income.

That was before savings groups were started in the village. They were supported by RECODA—a World Vision partner that helps savings and producer groups to engage in poultry, banana, and sweet potato value chains—to start raising Sasso chickens. The breed grows quickly and has good egg-laying capabilities.

The savings groups took on the additional role of poultry producer groups, starting with 300 day-old chicks in August 2017. They raised them for one month and then sold them.

Between then and 2019, the groups raised and sold 12 batches of 300 chicks to Mbuyuni community members. Members buy a chick for 54 cents and sell it for $2.24, for gross revenue of $510 per batch.

The groups invest part of their revenue in their savings groups for borrowing purposes and to earn interest.

Aside from working as a group, members individually raise chickens at home for income and food purposes.

“Almost every household owns at least 10 to 20 Sasso chickens,” said Angela, secretary of the Shengai poultry producer group, composed entirely of women. She is on her fifth batch of either one-day- or one-month-old chicks that are purchased from a private poultry company.

Group members support others in the community on improved poultry breeding with minimal support needed from extension officers or project facilitators.

“Chicken is our ‘bank’ these days, from where we draw money for our household needs as well as food,” said Shengai member Anna. “Our children are well nourished and healthy due to the chicken business.”

Farmer Mary feeds her chickens in her new coop
Farmer Mary feeds her chickens in her new coop

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Maria cares for her chickens
Maria cares for her chickens

Naitolia village is filled with Acacia trees and a few maize farms that can be seen from a distance. As one drives deeper into the village, all farms have turned golden yellow which could only mean one thing, harvest season. But that is not the case. This time drought has destroyed nearly every crop, leaving the community in Naitolia unprepared. But Maria is not a victim.

Maria (42) is married to Sanare (58) and they have six children, four boys and two girls. Five of her children are in school. Maria is also taking care of her two grandchildren who are five and two. Maria is a member of Upendo Savings Group, a farmer and a poulter.

Maria remembers the old days when all she fed her children was ugali, a cornmeal porridge and milk from her cattle. The children often fell sick because they lacked a balanced diet which affected their growth. “In good days, we had two meals per day and when the maize harvest was bad, we could only manage one meal per day,” says Maria in a low voice. When her children fell sick, Maria and her husband were forced to sell the food in the house or a cow to pay for medical bills. Paying school fees and buying school materials for their children was very hard and her children had to share the only pair of school shirts that she had. “As a parent the worst feeling you can have is failure to provide for your children, and I constantly felt that and thought that we have failed our children,” says Maria.

Maria started working with World Vision through a savings group where she received training on savings and lending as well as rain water harvesting for farming in the dry season. World Vision taught Maria how she can diversify her income through poultry. Her savings group worked with World Vision to become a demonstration for chicken poultry so other groups can learn from them. World Vision supported Maria with a chicken coop to start her poultry business. Maria and her group were linked to Vision Fund by World Vision so they could access microfinance loans to buy chicks. “After all the training we received from World Vision about income diversification, my big question was where I will get money to start a poultry business, but World Vision connected us to Vision Fund for loans.” Maria and her husband are teaching their neighbors how to do poultry as a business as well as mobilizing them to start vegetable kitchen gardens for their families.

Maria and her family now eat three meals a day and their health has improved since they can afford to eat a balanced diet. From the sale of chickens and vegetables, Maria is able to pay school fees for her five children as well as their school supplies.

Maria has also connected her house to solar power and her children can study after dark which has improved their grades at school. “I want every parent to be able to provide for their children because that is the highest achievement for me as a parent,” says Maria, while picking eggs and getting ready to take them to a local market.

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Organization Information

World Vision

Location: Federal Way, WA - USA
Project Leader:
Bernadette Martin
Federal Way, WA United States

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