Friday, April 13, 2012

Social Performance in Action: Vulnerable Groups

In addition to loans, many of our field partners go above and beyond by offering their clients additional services and support. To encourage these wraparound services, we established a Social Performance team here at Kiva and awarded these partners with badges corresponding to key areas of support. This series is designed to share stories from the field that demonstrate the amazing work our partners are doing to meet a range of client needs.

Isolation can be a breeding ground for the entrepreneurial spirit. Exclusion from financial and social services can force vulnerable groups to become self reliant and develop systems for self-sustainability and opportunity. This desire to create opportunity in spite of limited resources makes these groups particularly successful microfinance clients. Kiva works with partners who target these groups for loans and services to encourage and bolster their growth. Exclusion is most often a result of country and cultural specific circumstances, the most prevalent being:

• Post-conflict locations like South Sudan and Azerbaijan which result in Internally-Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugee populations.

• Difficult to access areas such as the mountainous regions of Nepal, or extremely rural areas, which isolate populations from mainstream communities.

• Indigenous populations in the Americas.

Other potential examples of vulnerable groups include ethnic and religious minorities, people with disabilities, people with HIV, youth, unbanked farmers and often times, women.

One, often overlooked, group is the Roma people from Central and Eastern Europe. The Roma have been ostracized for decades in Europe and have a difficult time obtaining credit and financial services through traditional channels.

"The Roma minority in Europe is one of the most vulnerable and socially marginalized in the world. Financial inclusion of the Roma is a critical step for Europe's future."
-JD Bergeron, Senior Director, Social Performance

Roma Potato Farmer from Bulgaria

The article Roma Economic Inclusion and the Road to Legitimacy discusses the many steps being taken by the U.N., U.S.A.I.D., the World Bank and the European Union to bring this issue to the forefront and begin to address it. Check out the great examples of the programs that are being initiated in the region.

For our part, Kiva has recently partnered with KosInvest located in Kosovo. KosInvest targets the Roma population and is working to prove that their clients are credit worthy as they fund their micro-enterprises. Keep an eye out for this new partner and their loans for the Roma people!

Click here to make a loan now and help an entrepreneur from a vulnerable group.

Photo courtesy of JD Bergeron