Women standing in field

Empowering Women Through Microfinance

VisionFund is committed to creating and promoting products and services that understand and respond to the unique needs of women in rural areas.

female icon (female symbol)

70%

VisionFund clients globally who are women

100%

VisionFund clients in India who are women

3M

children impacted by loans given to women each year
Gender Gap

Empowering Women Through Microfinance

The Business Gender Gap

Women in rural areas in developing countries face unique challenges when it comes to accessing financial products and services. Factors such as unfinished education, early marriage and motherhood, and the demands of family and community support roles can leave women without the same opportunities as men, and without the tools and resources to economically empower themselves and their families. Other barriers to accessing financial services include systems of land inheritance which favour male ownership, leaving women without assets to pledge for bank loans and challenges for women who do not have a registered ID. Cultural attitudes towards women in business can make it difficult for women to access the services and inputs which they need to progress.

Helping women thrive

Empowering Women Through Microfinance

Helping Women Thrive

One of the most beneficial ways that VisionFund supports women clients is through the Group Lending Methodology, which is at the core of our microcredit products. Rather than lending to women on their own, VisionFund more frequently disburses a loan to an established community group of friends and neighbours who know and trust each other. Women in the group can borrow the portion of the loan they require, without the need for collateral or a deposit. The strength of the relationships in the group mean that everyone is supported, and held accountable, if there is any difficulty repaying the loan.

VisionFund assesses the loan applications of groups on the character and longevity of the group, and the individual histories of loan repayment, rather than asking for business records or registration, which many women living in poor rural areas cannot provide. We also ensure that the repayment schedule, loan term and loan size are customized to fit their needs and ability to repay. For instance, women can choose a shorter loan term that fits their business needs. Short discussions on topics of interest such as savings, insurance, budgeting and borrowing wisely are facilitated during group meetings, enabling women to increase their financial knowledge and control.

Technology for change

Empowering Women Through Microfinance

Technology for Change

New digital platforms are allowing VisionFund to move from manual processes to streamlining loan approvals and processing, through mobile payments and by collecting data on tablets that link to core banking software. For our women clients, this means less time waiting for loans, and more time invested in developing livelihood opportunities. Access to appropriate technology can be a significant enabler for closing the gender gap in business ventures, and can ensure women’s lives aren’t disrupted by arduous manual processes. Platforms like mobile money mean that women don’t need to take time away from their businesses or families to travel to physical branches, and are able to store their business income securely away from theft or damage.

Opportunities for all

Empowering Women Through Microfinance

Opportunities For All

We know that when women have access to loan capital, they are more likely to spend their income on family needs. This means that when a woman invests that loan capital in developing her own small business, her family benefits from nutritious food on the table, school fees paid on time, and other household needs met. Even her community benefits from increased economic activity. Small businesses allow women to balance family needs with micro-enterprise, that fits their capacity and available time. The transformative nature of women’s economic empowerment can help close the gender gap and allow generations of women and their children to thrive.

Meet Gheetha

This gentle and powerful film gives insight into the life of Gheetha, a woman whose cashew business has helped support her family, as well as other women in her community.

 

I can provide for the family all year around

"I can provide for my family all year round"

When first meeting the all-female loan collective of Djackou Mbougane, the fierce independence of each member is quickly apparent. “We love not having to ask for help,” laughs group secretary Yandé, as the collective busies themselves with their profitable market garden.