Friday, December 16, 2011

NFS Series: Women's Empowerment Part 3: Social Performance Partner Badges

In celebration of the launch of Kiva’s new Social Performance Badges, we have decided to dedicate Part 3 of Women’s Empowerment to our Field Partners who excel in offering products and services specifically designed to support women. Women’s Empowerment fall under the Family and Community Empowerment Badge, one of seven new badges that Field Partners can earn.

By introducing the Social Performance Badges, Kiva has attempted to create a spotlight on those MFIs that do great work for their clients by providing nonfinancial services in addition to their general credit products. The seven badges are Anti-Poverty Focus, Vulnerable Group Focus, Client Voice, Family and Community Empowerment, Entrepreneurial Support, Facilitation of Savings, and Innovation. Highlighting Field Partners that excel in these areas gives lenders the ability to search for a loan by specifying the social performance strengths that they value most.

BRAC Uganda borrowers group.

Twenty-four Kiva Field Partners, on four continents, have earned top marks for offering support services for women’s empowerment. All of these partners went on to earn the Family and Community Empowerment Badge. Women’s empowerment is a critical aspect in the fight against poverty. While women are often the marginalized by poverty, experience suggests that women can be an excellent investment in the fight for sustainable change. Research shows that when a woman is able to contribute to her family’s income, at least 80% of her contribution goes toward creating a better future for herself and her children.

To that end, many of our Field Partners have created programs specifically targeted towards women and girls. BRAC Uganda, for example, has initiated the Empowerment and Livelihood for Adolescents (ELA) program in an effort to help build the life skills, financial literacy and self-confidence of rural adolescent girls. ELA programs can consist of features including:

Adolescent clubs—Safe spaces where girls can meet and interact and engage in skill building, sports, and other recreational activities.

Adolescent leaders—Older adolescent girls (of at least nineteen years of age) trained by BRAC to manage and lead the clubs and the training courses.

Life skills training courses—For all club members to build social skills and avoid early marriage.

Income-generation skills training—Older and out-of-school girls can select one income-generating training area of interest that is designed for the local economy. Central to this feature is training in basic market analysis and help in selecting training that suits a girl’s interests and skills.

Appropriately designed microfinance—Includes adolescent female loan officers, smaller loan amounts than those given to adults, and a minimum borrowing age of sixteen.

Community participation—Information about the program is provided to communities, including parents and guardians, to help them understand it and to encourage them to support their adolescent girls.#

Koperasi Mitra Usaha Kecil (MUK) from Indonesia is another Kiva Field Partner that excels in offering support services for women. With Kiva’s help MUK is able to provide funding for women to expand the scale of pig breeding through “Pig Breeder Group Loans.” MUK also offers to its clients, business training, veterinary services, and nutritional and social assistance to children under five years of age and women who are pregnant and breast-feeding.

Empowering women around the world has proven to be one of the most effective ways to achieve sustainable poverty alleviation. Kiva works hard to partner with socially-minded organizations that concentrate on multiple client needs.

Stay tuned for our forth and final installment of the Nonfinancial Services Series in January about Enterprise Services.

You can make a loan to a borrower served by a Field Partner that has been granted the Family and Community Empowerment badge and support women’s empowerment.

For quick links to each part of the series click on Introducing Kiva's Nonfinancial Services Blog Series.