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.
- 240 Nepali organizations were recruited, trained and enlisted as WEP partners, including NGOs, cooperatives and various MFIs.
- Training and support was provided to 6,500 groups with 130,000 members in the lowland Terai region of Nepal. Of these groups 6,265 were still active as of June 2001.
- Existing groups have already created over 800 new groups with no financial support from WEP (spontaneous replication) with the number of new groups created exceeding the number of groups disbanded. In addition, the local partner organizations have taken responsibility for expanding the number of groups beyond their agreement with Pact, in response to demand from their women constituents. In the Eastern Terai alone about half of the local partners formed more than 500 additional groups (although they may have been counting some of the groups that the women created on their own).
- 45% of the group members (55,000) are considered poor; 35% (43,000) as the “emerging poor”; and 20% (25,000) as better off. This was a major accomplishment given that WEP was targeted to rural women, not poor rural women. Rural Nepal presents serious challenges for any organization: per capita income is $210 annually and less than half that in the rural region where WEP operates. A recent study ranking the state of the world’s women placed Nepal last out of 106 nations based on maternal mortality, use of contraception, births attended by trained personnel, anemia, literacy, and role in national government. Only 14% of rural women are literate. Violence against women is endemic.
- Despite the region’s extreme poverty, the women participating in WEP mobilized $1,180,000 from savings, retained interest earnings and fundraising events between June 1999 and June 2001, over $500,000 per year. A total of $1,900,000 is held by WEP participants when group savings prior to joining WEP are considered. This amount is
- projected to reach $3,000,000 by July 2002 and $5,000,000 by the middle of 2004 by which time most groups will meet all their credit needs. Not only are the groups saving more each year, the retained interest earnings on the loans becomes an increasingly important source of income for the group fund. This will be a remarkable accomplishment considering that MFIs justify their presence based on the perceived need for an external source of credit.
- 97% of the group funds are currently on loan to 45,366 members, making WEP the second largest village bank (VB) program listed in the MicroBanking Bulletin after Compartamos in Mexico. Compartamos, which began operations in 1992, currently has 49,000 borrowers and is working through roughly 2,500 groups. WEP, in contrast, has 130,000 savers and 45,000 borrowers and works through more than 6,000 groups. At the same time, it taught nearly 64,000 women to read with an essential part of the literacy curriculum focused on basic business literacy to improve the success of their enterprises.
- Only 4% of the groups made loans that defaulted and 82% keep their own records without outside assistance, which is all the more important given that in many microfinance programs the staff are the groups’ de facto book-keepers.
- An average of 89,000 women reported increased decision-making authority in the areas of family planning, children’s marriages, buying and selling property and girl’s schooling, reflecting the success of WEP’s empowerment objectives.
- 63,700 women gained a level of literacy with half of those who had never gone to school reading “easily” or with “some difficulty.”
- 86,000 women started a business since joining WEP thus for the first time having an independent source of income. In addition, since WEP builds equity instead of debt, the women earn an annual return on their savings of between 18% and 24% depending on the percentage of the group’s savings lent out..