Thursday, September 22, 2011

NFS Series: Health Care Services Part 3: ESPOIR and Health Care

Part 3 of Health Care services discusses Kiva’s Field Partner in Ecuador, ESPOIR, and the fantastic health care services they provide to their clients. Kiva favors Field Partners who prioritize a multi-faceted approach to poverty alleviation by offering clients a variety of services in addition to financing. For more on Health Care services check out Part 1 and 2 of our series written by Chris Dunford with Freedom from Hunger.

A group of women in Sierra Leone look to expand their business selling household goods through a loan while at the same time caring for their children. A man in Azerbaijan takes a loan to support his corner grocery store while he pays to put his children through school. A woman in Mongolia runs her shop selling local goods while she pays the college tuition of her two children. All of these people and the billions of people living in poverty around the world just like them face multiple barriers as they work to change their lives for the better.

ESPOIR clients in Ecuador

One of the most common and potentially crippling of these barriers is the lack of access to adequate health care services. As entrepreneurs continue the daily struggle to pull their families out of poverty, a costly health issue is always looming, threatening to jeopardize their business and their financial independence.

Kiva partners with Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) throughout the world that excel in offering their clients more than just financial products. Some refer to these Nonfinancial Services (NFS) as credit+, and often these extra “wrap-around” services can make the difference between constantly falling back into the cycle of poverty and true financial independence.

ESPOIR is a Kiva Field Partner headquartered in Cuenca, Ecuador. They have nine regional offices throughout Ecuador and specialize in group lending to women. One of the services that differentiate ESPOIR from other MFIs in the region is their comprehensive, affordable health care services they offer to clients throughout the life of their loans. For $0.75 a month clients and their families are offered access to the health clinics in Cuenca and Azuay for general check-ups and doctor visits. Services also include vaccinations for their children, cholesterol screenings, nutrition classes and parenting classes.

Medical Clinic in Cuenca Office of ESPOIR

On average the clinic in the Cuenca office sees about 300 entrepreneurs a month for general medical issues and education. They also provide referrals at a discounted rate to local hospitals for more serious conditions. Overall, providing health care services to their clients creates more security for both for the clients and the MFI because their clients are less likely to have a catastrophic event that will cause them to default on their loan.

ESPOIR meeting with Kiva employee Lindsey Feedman

As the comprehensive approach to poverty alleviation of combining microfinance and nonfinancial services like affordable health care spreads, we are giving people, especially women, the tools and opportunities they need to pull their families out of poverty forever.

Stay tuned to the blog next month for a three part piece on Women’s Empowerment as we continue our series on Nonfinancial Services (NFS). You can make a loan to an ESPOIR client or to an entrepreneur in the health sector by clicking on the links or going to