Plan's microfinance solutions are designed to help establish basic financial services, including credit and savings, to the poor. These programs improve the lives of women and children by promoting their economic security and increasing their ability to manage and reduce financial risks.
Plan’s microfinance programs offer financial assistance to the very poor with a special emphasis on access for women. By providing access to funds and the opportunity to accumulate savings, these solutions allow families to manage their resources, provide for their children, and become more resilient to economic shocks over time.
They also have the potential to empower women, improve the health and nutrition of children, encourage school attendance, and allow the poor to invest in income-generating activities.
Plan has four priority areas where we focus our attention and resources:
Adapting Microfinance Services for Youth
Microfinance programs extended to children can have a lifelong positive impact. Plan’s programs allow youth to learn from a young age the value of saving, and gain access to credit and valuable entrepreneurial and life-skills training.
For example, in Tanzania, the Village Savings and Loan (VSL) project has included children in its activities. Twenty-one VSL groups in Kisarawe, with a total of 500 members, are managed solely by children. The children are learning to save and manage money given to them by their parents.
Supporting Women in Accessing and Utilizing Microfinance Services
Microfinance solutions targeted at women can have far-reaching positive impacts for their children’s, family’s, and community’s health and wellbeing. Plan’s programs seek to empower their female participants, many of who have gone on to take leadership positions in their communities.
In Niger, Plan created a network of 536 savings and loan groups known as Wayborey Kokaro Nafa, with more than 9,400 shareholders, all women. Members save their own money in the form of shares, which are then deposited into a credit fund the women can borrow from. Both the share prices and the loan rates are set by the groups themselves, so that even the poorest can take part. Every association is self-managed, to encourage institutional independence and sustainability.
Partnering with Established Microfinance Institutions
Plan works partnership with local microfinance service providers as well as organizations that help communities organize their own savings and credit associations. The aim is to establish and support lending and saving programs that can eventually become financially self-sufficient.
In Peru, Plan's work through partnerships has helped 8,000 families in poverty access financial services and receive educational support. Together with Arariwa, a non-governmental organization with expertise in microfinance projects, Plan helped bring village banks to rural areas of the Cusco region. Plan complemented these services with educational projects on business management, participation in the community and children's and women's health.
Implementing the Village Savings and Loans approach
Village Savings and Loans associations help the rural poor gain access to credit, thereby encouraging investment in health, education and income-generating activities. This approach has served as the centerpiece of Plan’s microfinance interventions in Africa since 2003, operating in 15 African countries and benefiting a total of 70,000 clients.
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