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
Grace and her granddaughter
Grace and her granddaughter

Lack of economic independence is one of the plights of many African women, especially in rural areas. In many African countries, men are the bread winners. This was true of Grace in Malawi.

Married over 31 years and a mother of 5 children, she depended on her husband for everything. She never engaged in any form of business to gain income or supplement what her husband earned. For her, being married, meant the husband had to shoulder total responsibility for everything.

“Before the THRIVE Project, I could hardly think of engaging in any form of micro enterprise for additional income for our household. I thought my husband was there to provide everything for the home,” said Grace. Grace spent years begging her husband for even the smallest items. She would beg for household items such as salt, matches and other smaller items. “With no other source of income, women are reduced to beggars in the home and community. I used to beg for everything from my husband and neighbors. This really contributed to my loss of respect among fellow women,” lamented Grace.

Grace started changing with the coming in of the Transforming Household Resilience in Vulnerable Environments (THRIVE) project, which was aimed at economic empowerment of women and other members in the community. Through   the   project   interventions,   she   formed the Msaliranji (meaning: why lag behind) Savings Group with other women in her village. Seeing the gains from the first cycle, Grace decided to do more and to diversify her economic ventures. She started growing rice and other crops such as cassava. Consumed with the zeal to diversify, she has planted bananas. This last growing season she planted 88 plants of new bananas which are very promising. Last year she earned about $700 USD which was never the case before. She used part of the money for household improvements and reinvested the rest.

Interacting with Grace, it is clear that she, together with her family is going through tremendous transformation. Through her small-scale businesses, she is able to provide support for her family. “I no longer have to depend on the income from my husband. I am able to raise some good income from business ventures and supplement my husband’s efforts on improving our household. We are now able to have three good meals in a day which was not the case before,” says Grace. As a family, they are now able to comfortably support their children. Grace and her family have managed to build a brick house with iron sheets for the roof, cemented floors and wiring for electricity. They have bought a 30x15m plot at a local trading center, where they plan to build a house for rent.

Grace is determined to be a woman of economic influence in her area. “I thank World Vision and the THRIVE Project for opening my eyes, that I could reach this far,” says Grace with a glittering smile.

Grace and her son inspect the corn
Grace and her son inspect the corn
Grace is proud of her home
Grace is proud of her home
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Margret (right) serving a customer
Margret (right) serving a customer

Life was a nightmare for Margret and family.

Margret, a mother of 7 and grandmother of 10, hails from Kapatuka village in Malawi. She is 56 and was widowed over 10 years ago. As the sole bread winner, she faced a myriad of challenges trying to make ends meet. Life was tough, and it was a mammoth task to take care of the seven children that were left behind after the demise of her husband.

“Life was not easy. It was really hard to take care of all the children as a single mother. Fending for food and other basic necessities for the family was an uphill task. This situation was exacerbated by the fact that I had no skills to engage in any form of micro enterprise,” said Margret. As such, she had no tangible source of income to meet her basic needs. There were times when Margret and her family went to bed on empty stomachs, especially during lean periods.

The arrival of World Vision to Margret’s community brought a ray of hope to many people. With World Vision, the community started participating in a number of development projects for transformation. Through World Vision’s Economic Empowerment Project, Margret and her friends formed a village savings group. From the village savings, she started a small business selling household supplies. Trying to expand her economic base, she has expanded into new frontiers. Margret has gone beyond the usual small-scale businesses selling tomatoes, doughnuts and dried fish, which are common among women.

“I decided to venture into soap making because it’s unique and the market and is readily available. Hence I am able to make quite a fortune from the business. Looking at the way the business is going, I see myself making 100% plus profit from the capital,” said Margret.

Margret is now a proud mother and grandma and is able to provide for her family without any problem.

“I don’t struggle fending for my family. I am very optimistic of a better future for my family, including my grandchildren. Though a widow, I am now comfortably taking care of my children due to diversified income through small scale businesses,” she says. “From the soap I am making, I expect to raise 150,000.00 Kwacha ($197) which is even higher than the dividends I would accumulate through savings in the same period of time,” says Margret.

With the income raised through the various ventures, she has started building a brick house and hopes to include an iron roof with proceeds from the soap.

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Sarafina and Gloria with their chickens
Sarafina and Gloria with their chickens

A short drive from the main road in Babati, it opens up to a small village. The scorching sun and the dust kept everyone inside their houses and no one was seen around the village except for one woman who rushed towards us waving her hands and smiling. This is Sarafina (28) who is married to Zakaria (36). They have two children, Naftari (11) and Gloria (6) who are in class three and class one respectively. Sarafina and her husband are farmers and livestock keepers, they have ten acres of land where they farm maize and sesame. Sarafina is a member of a Savings and Poultry Group.

“For me, poultry is a hobby. I grew up on a farm and the only thing I loved to do was feed chickens,” says Sarafina as she walks towards the chicken coup. Sarafina explains that poultry allows her to work from home and be able to take care of her family. She is able to spend more time with her family and enjoys teaching her children about poultry.

A couple of years ago, Sarafina and her husband struggled to provide for their family. Their ten acres could only produce forty bags of maize, which were used for food and for sale to buy home supplies. “Life was hard and asking my husband for money to buy food was even harder because I knew he did not have any money. It made us sad, even the children were sad,” says Sarafina as she collects eggs alongside Gloria in the coup. Sarafina and her family survived on ugali, a porridge made from flour and milk for months. “Thank God my children did not complain, it’s like they understood the rough time that we had,” says Sarafina.

Sarafina and her husband joined a savings group that was mobilized by World Vision’s Transforming Household Resilience in Vulnerable Environments project. World Vision supported Sarafina and Zakaria with a chicken coup and one hundred chicks to start poultry. They received trainings and were linked to a market. A year later a terrible fowl cholera disease broke out in the village that killed many of her chickens. The disaster forced her to sell the remaining chickens.

Through her savings group, Sarafina joined hands with eight other women and took out a loan of $800 from Vision Fund, World Vision's microfinance arm, to start raising poultry again. Judging from the previous disease that killed numerous chickens in her village, she realized $800 was not enough so she went to her savings group to borrow another $200 for pesticides and more feed.

Today, Sarafina collects five trays of eggs per day and sells them to restaurants in the nearest town. She raises about $200 each week. There is a great improvement in her children’s health and overall wellbeing. The family’s diet has improved and her children are healthy and happy. She is able to buy school supplies for her children such as shoes and books.

Sarafina and her husband started building a better house for the family. Through the sale of eggs, Sarafina has supported her husband with house furnishing as well as buying food for the family.

“I love helping my mum to collect eggs from the coup,” says Gloria, whose attention was captured by the camera. Gloria wants to be a doctor and a photographer.

“Nothing makes me happier than seeing my children dream of big things, dreams that did not exist a couple of years ago because of poverty,” says Sarafina.

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The Women’s Empowerment Fund aims to build the resilience of women and their families, improve gender equality, and support the development of livelihoods by increasing access to and quality of financial services to vulnerable women.

 The fund is facilitated by VisionFund, World Vision’s microfinance network. The current and first phase of this two-phase project is focusing on significantly growing loan capital for women that can be invested to expand small businesses and farms. Phase two, which begins in FY2019, will seek to strengthen the services we provide women, such as developing links to savings for women, developing insurance products specifically for women, and expanding financial education.

The fund seeks to improve financial access by doubling the current reach of VisionFund International to annually benefit 2 million women and impact 6 million children by 2021. So far, $1.55 million has been raised toward the $25 million needed to impact the lives of these women and children, with 5,062 women currently receiving loans through this fund that impact 13,037 children.

 

ANNUAL HIGHLIGHTS

Improved products and relationships focus on the needs of women

 The initial focus of the Women’s Empowerment Fund is to provide capital and other resources in the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Myanmar, Peru, Rwanda, and Senegal.

 Dominican Republic Highlights:

• An educational loan, primarily to serve women with school age children, has been launched to cover the cost of uniforms, shoes, school supplies, and school fees. Through September, 89 women with 161 children have taken out $28,814 in loans, which offer VFDR’s lowest interest rate and no commission charges.

• Service coverage has expanded into Monte Plata, a rural, agricultural area that was not previously served. Plans are to place a new branch in the area.

 Mexico Highlights:

• The Women’s Empowerment Fund helped support a community loan product that allows repeat clients in good standing to receive a loan without a co-signer or collateral.

• VFM has opened a call center to address client complaints. The center solves problems in an average of 2.4 working days. The call center’s database is analyzed and shared with the audit department. In the future, it will be shared with human resources and the risk department to map recurring problems.

Myanmar Highlights:

• In the first half of FY19, VFM plans to give gender sensitivity training to staff and is currently reviewing resources.

• VFM is opening three new branches in Rakhine state.

• VFM is a joint recipient of the A2RDIS award from Blue Ochard, a global impact investment manager, for its work in Myanmar. The award went to organizations that have left a social impact on 4 million beneficiaries and 690,000 families in Cambodia, Kenya, Mali, Malawi, Myanmar, and Zambia.

 Peru Highlight:

• In focus group discussions, clients said they value the rural access to credit, and the culture of saving that the MFI promotes. Clients requested small business management training.

 

 LOANS IMPACT NEXT GENERATION

 Agnes and her husband, Noël, live in Nyamata, about 90 minutes south of Rwanda’s capital, Kigali. They were children of subsistence farmers who, with little education or capital, borrowed money to diversify their livelihoods and make purchases to benefit their family.

 This is economic development at the grass roots, and it all began with a small loan to a promising entrepreneur. The family income stems from five very different businesses. Agnes’ main enterprise is a stall selling clothes in the local market. Her husband also has a stall selling various types of flour. Together, they own a farm of about two-and-a-half acres, and they also have 13 dairy cows and about

30 goats. With six children, Agnes is constantly busy. She and her husband juggle the responsibility for the livestock, which, along with the garden, are about three miles from her home. They have a motorcycle for this, which also greatly eases the delivery of the milk and all the stock for their two shops.

 With all these assets, the family is obviously prospering in economic terms. For the last four years, Agnes has had business loans from VisionFund Rwanda to develop her multiple livelihoods, mostly for buying stock for the two shops. These businesses are increasingly profitable, and Agnes has a clear idea of how she wants to develop them further.

Yet the family’s rise in income is not the main story. The real impact is on their children. Agnes and Noël have four biological children, the youngest, nicknamed Boy, 8; Arberic, 12; Dianne, 15; and Noella, 17. The three youngest go to a local school, while Noella attends boarding school, which costs just under $600 a year. The expense is justified to her parents because she scored highly on the national exam that gave her access to the country’s best secondary schools. She will go on to university to study medicine, which will be funded by a loan from the government; Agnes and Noël are determined to contribute money from the sale of animals or other assets. Education, says Agnes, gives all her children a very different life than she has had. Once they have completed secondary school, they will have good skills, and they will be able to have better jobs. She has been able to pay for school fees from her business profits—and says their food and healthcare also has improved—but it is school fees that Agnes emphasizes repeatedly.

 The other two children in the family are Gillay, 3, and Fis, 14. Both are orphaned relatives whom Agnes and Noël have adopted into their family. That makes six children who will complete secondary school because Agnes and Noël have profitable businesses.  The parents of Fis owned a small compound with a house and two animal sheds that Agnes and Noël will hand over to Fis when he’s older. Currently, the compound is home to the goats, and the house is occupied by the young men employed to herd the livestock. Including the casual labor, Agnes and Noël employ five people, and provide a home for two.

 This is how their prosperity extends to the community. Prosperity has brought changes for Agnes personally. With the success of her businesses, she feels strong and confident. She is respected by her neighbors. Most importantly, to her, she is respected by her extended family members, who consult her about decisions and problems.

Agnes
Agnes
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Yvette shows off her completed shirt in class
Yvette shows off her completed shirt in class
One of the project outcomes for the THRIVE Project (Transform ing Household Resilience in Vulnerable Environments) is to increase household incomes and assets. This has been achieved in so many ways where the income of the participants is diversified through off-farm opportunities. The Youth Ready Project (YRP) is the youth-focused part of the THRIVE project. It ensures that youth have access to similar opportunities and are thriving on the ladder of life. The YRP is aimed at equipping youth who cannot continue their formal education. It gives them the chance to receive training in skills like tailoring, mechanics, welding, hair dressing, construction, catering and chauffeuring. The course work usually takes six months and equips the kids with practical life skills to help them strive towards self-reliance.
Yvette (19) is a YRP beneficiary in southern Rwanda. When she finished her Senior 6 final examination, she had hoped to score high enough to earn a government scholarship and go to college. Unfortunately, her results turned out differently, and she suddenly stopped her schooling. “The day I realized that I did not qualify for a scholarship, my hope for the future was gone. I am one of the seven children, the fourth in line. My parents and siblings had a lot of hope in me, and that hope stopped the day I missed my scholarship,” says Yvette. “I became a huge disappointment to my parents because they had sacrificed all their little savings, so I could stay in school because my elder siblings had all dropped out. I had won several awards from the first lady as the best student in my village, and those awards made my parents believe that nothing would stop me from going to the University,” Yvette adds.
“When I lost the scholarship, I started isolating myself from people...many times, I thought of leaving home and going far away so I could detach myself from that shame, but I had nowhere to go,” says Yvette, breaking into tears.
Fortunately, a miracle came her way through World Vision’s Youth Ready Project. Yvette was picked among children that were no longer in school due to lack of funding. She was given the opportunity to choose her favorite vocation. Yvette decided to pursue tailoring. Once she will graduates, she will become a professional seamstress. “My dreams and hopes for the future revived when I got this opportunity. During this period, I was able to join the savings group. I could go home, ask my neighbors to give me an offer to make school uniforms for their children at a lower cost, and I started getting money to save,” says Yvette.
“From my savings over the last six months, I managed to buy four chickens, and I hope to have 32 chicks by the end of this year. Once they grow, I will sell them and buy my own sewing machine,” says Yvette. “I have a plan of bringing together all my colleagues, so we can work together and create a sewing cooperative because I believe that if we work together we will get far. I now believe in myself and my family is now happy that I am contributing to their wellbeing,” Yvette shared. “World Vision has brought back my hopes and dreams for the future and I am so happy and forever grateful,” says Yvette in her last comment.
Yvette and her chickens
Yvette and her chickens
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World Vision

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

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