Promoting Inclusive Markets and Financial Systems
The MasterCard Foundation works with visionary organizations to provide greater access to education, skills training and financial services for people living in poverty, primarily in Sub-Saharan Africa. As one of the largest, independent foundations, its work is guided by its mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion in order to alleviate poverty. Based in Toronto, Canada, its independence was established by MasterCard when the Foundation was created in 2006. For more information, please visit www.mastercardfdn.org or follow us on Twitter @MCFoundation.
The consequences of HIV and AIDS are unprecedented and far-reaching. For many families, concerns about poverty subsume concerns about the effects of HIV and AIDS. Poverty and social factors, such as gender inequality, also increase the risks to which women are exposed, as well as their vulnerability to contracting HIV. Income and savings become crucial tools and safeguards as households struggle to build and protect their economic resources to offset the impact of HIV and AIDS. Engaging in business and gaining access to support services may, moreover, provide women with alternatives to risky sexual behavior.
Microenterprise development services can help families cover basic expenses, ensure the well-being of their children, increase their incomes, and build their savings. In addition, the close relationship between providers of microenterprise services and their clients offers a powerful platform from which to launch awareness and community mobilization initiatives that go beyond the mitigation of the economic impact of HIV and AIDS to address issues of HIV prevention.
Microfinance practitioners have created an innovative system that provides poor people with access to capital, which in turn supports their economic activities. However, most microfinance institutions (MFIs) do not have information about how HIV and AIDS affect their operations or their clients, nor do they have the background to address the societal factors that underlie HIV and AIDS. A better appreciation of client realities could allow MFIs to develop demand-driven innovations that protect their institutions. Such awareness could also guide MFIs to seek to collaborate with AIDS support organizations (ASOs).
The purpose of The SEEP Network’s “Promising Practices” case study series is to describe a variety of microenterprise services that:
- reach deeply into the poor socioeconomic strata of a given community and/or geographic area;
- show the potential to reach significant scale;
- enable clients to plan for future crises, anticipate needs for lump sums of cash, improve income flows, enhance the profitability of economic activities, and avoid selling productive assets; and
- strive to go beyond the economic dimension of clients’ lives to address the underlying factors that contribute to the spread of HIV & AIDS (e.g., through collaboration with ASOs or educational initiatives, such as informing clients about HIV & AIDS issues in order to change their behavior and mobilize community action).