The secret to lifting children out of poverty? Empowering women through microfinance
In honor of International Women’s Day, 60 Decibels is highlighting one of our fantastic partners, VisionFund, on their work empowering women.
Since its founding, VisionFund has focused on serving women borrowers to uplift children out of poverty. Almost 70% of their borrowers are female. As the primary caretakers for children, when women live in poverty, their children also live in poverty; when women lift themselves out of poverty, their children follow.
Between September 2021 and September 2022, VisionFund International produced more evidence of the impact of its work than in all the 18 preceding years of its existence. The impact team at VisionFund paired seven 60 Decibels Lean Data surveys with five internal surveys to create a detailed, customer-centric depiction of their social impact. 60 Decibels and VisionFund interviewed 2,500+ clients, supporting 10,000+ children, across Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Mongolia, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, Guatemala, Mexico, and Rwanda.
The findings reaffirmed VisionFund’s work, while highlighting both key ways their portfolio companies can improve and how VisionFund International can shape the strategy of the financial inclusion industry for years to come. (Check out the 60 Decibels Microfinance Index to learn more about financial inclusion trends.)
A surprising focus on education
One powerful finding is the positive impact that loans have had on children’s education. In almost every project measuring the impact of VisionFund’s microloans, the largest area caregivers reported better providing for their children was through better affording education expenses. Johanna Ryan, the Global Director of Impact at VisionFund commented that, “the degree to which children’s education really benefits from microloans was quite startling.” This data is helping VisionFund to think more deeply about how they can capitalize on this positive impact and build future programs and initiatives around supporting caregivers to pay fees for schooling and vocational training.
Implementing internal surveys
60 Decibels Lean Data results also empower country-wide MFIs to understand where they excel and where they can improve. In Latin America, for example, the regional director has rolled out regular client feedback sessions to all six of the MFIs in the area. After seeing the rich insights gathered from the 60 Decibels studies, he wanted to recreate the practice of engaging and adapting to client voices on a regular basis. This has helped to build a mindset shift within the network towards the importance of soft skills like client interviewing.
As an organization that relies on donations, these studies provide valuable data to the fundraising team at VisionFund – their impact data and evidence have never been more robust. By sharing this data with stakeholders, VisionFund is able to deepen relationships with internal and external stakeholders, supporting their mission of improving financial inclusion for underserved communities around the world.
Explore all of our impact measurement reports and case-studies via our Insights Hub.