MicroFinance + Health Services = Success vs Poverty

Nancy Swanson, Executive Director of Linked Foundation, talks about microfinance and shares the Dorothy Largay family foundation’s success in the fight to alleviate poverty in Latin America. Linked Foundation’s goal is to advance the development of holistic approaches that combine micro-finance with health education and services targeted to poor women in Latin America.   As quoted on the Linked Foundation website, women have the power to change the world.

Nancy explains that women are a crucial ingredient in the fight against extreme poverty because women place their focus on improving the lives of their family and community.  However, due to this focus, they often neglect their own health.

Linked Foundation has invested in partnership with well-researched micro finance institutions to not only provide micro-loans but to also take the opportunity to provide additional educational and health services.   A woman who comes to pay her loan can walk to another portion of the same building to receive these valuable services.  Pro Mujer is one of several Linked well-respected partners.  For those who are interested in participating in micro-lending, the list of Linked Foundation partners is a good place to start your investigations.

The Foundation sees their philanthropic investments as “risk capital” directed towards initiatives that address a high need and have the potential for high social impact.  The next phase for Linked Foundation is to work in partnership with The Eleos Foundation to fund  for-profit initiatives that fight poverty while providing health and other educational services for the community.  (Listen to past interviews with Andy Lower, Executive Director for The Eleos Foundation:

Listen to the interview completely to learn more about the importance to thoroughly research micro-lending organizations to assure best business practices by the Micro-Finance organization and that your specific goals are addressed well by the Micro-Finance Partner (MFP).

About Robin Eschler

Robin L. Eschler, the founder of Social Impact Marketing, started her career in developing foundational marketing strategies for companies of all sizes, from Fortune 500 to individual entrepreneurs and local businesses. She has developed and implemented international campaigns to launch high tech products and services and guided new business owners to successfully navigate the difficulties of growing a business.

Her life-long passion for helping others led her into nonprofit work for over a decade. Early on, she recognized the need for nonprofits to adapt to a rapidly changing world in which technology dominates and for-profit business practices are central to success. Her determination to help social causes in a sustainable way led to her creation of the Women’s Radio show Socially Conscious Investing.

Impact investing in for-profits with a mission of social change such as the fight against extreme poverty is a blossoming business sector around the world. With the economic decline, it’s clear that Wall Street requires change. Social impact investing addresses that need in a way that provides financial and social ROI.

As the Host of Socially Conscious Investing on WomensRadio, Robin’s goal is to educate people about the growth of social impact investing and social venture. Interviews are conducted with socially conscious business experts including foundations and nonprofits, social venture investment firms, micro-loan organizations, investors, educators, authors and social entrepreneurs.

This show’s mission is to help change the world through sustainable business practices that contribute to the economy, combat poverty, end hunger and provide better lives to all.

Twice, Robin has been recognized and received the highest honorary award that Rotary International gives, the Paul Harris Award, for service above self. Her community work has included developing local programs for disadvantaged populations such as foster children, troubled teens, and people with disabilities.

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  1. we fully agree with you that microcredit +credit plus will actually improve the quality of life, we practice this at Equitas,brief of all our activities is enumerated below
    Equitas Micro Finance India P Ltd, Chennai
    In a matter of 3 ½ years, the company has set benchmarks in the Micro Finance industry:

    1. A combination of process and technology innovation has helped us maintain an operational efficiency which is about 100% better than any other MFI in the country
    2. CGAP (an arm of World Bank) have a blog in their website, that the technology we deploy at Equitas is the best amongst MFIs in the world
    3. mfTransparency.org which is a global NGO floated to improve transparency amongst MFIs has confirmed to us that we are the only MFI in the world to transparently publish the true cost of funds for the clients in the passbook which are given to clients, and by way of reducing balance method
    4. Harvard Business School has written a case study on Equitas (Harvard Business School Case 510-104.)
    5. CRISIL has consistently rated us well and has given us the highest rating they have ever given to any other micro finance company in the country, though we are among the youngest
    6. We crossed 1.5 million client base and operate out of 7 States and 290 branches with around 2500 staff
    7. Conservative accounting policy: we provide 1.25% standard asset provisioning though RBI norms do not require us to do any such provisioning
    8. We have recently been rated by CRISIL under their Corporate Governance rating and we have received a Level 3 rating (on a scale of 1 to 8, 1 being best). We are the only 8th corporate in the country to have got this rating, besides being of course, the first MFI.

    We also do significant number of social initiatives, under aegis of EDIT (Equitas Development Initiatives Trust) all on not-for-profit basis:

    9. Primary Health Care: Our primary health care medical camps done free has benefited around 6.7 lakhs clients so far which is a record in the MFI sector globally – CSR Division
    10. Secondary Health Care: Our tie up with large number of hospitals helps our clients get treated for serious illness at a discount to normal cost – Done by CSR Division
    11. Health helpline: Members call this line for serious illness and the operator guides them
    12. Livelihood support: We have given skill development (vocational training-Equitas Gyan kendra) to over 237884 people so far which is also a global record – Done by CSR Division
    13. Education: Around 3000 children are studying through 50 tuition centres(Equitas Shiksha) we run as an after school education support – run through Equitas Trust
    14. Schools: We have commenced four regular schools called Equitas Gurukul, (in Trichy and Dindigul,Salem & Coimbatore) – run by Equitas Trust
    15. Retail: We run a chain of 20 grocery stores where our clients can buy groceries. Benefit of aggregation is passed on to them. They also get a card from us with a limit loaded in it which acts just like a credit card to them – run by Equitas Dhanyakosha, a Sec 25 Company
    16. Ultra Poor Programme: We have commenced a programme for Rehabilitation of Pavement Dwellers in Chennai and identified 115 families in the first phase. We have moved 71 families into houses and imparting them skill development training. Most families have attained self sustenance status. Houses being identified for remaining – run by Trust
    17. Physically Challenged people: We have financially supported, so far, 5199 physically challenged people of whom 461 are blind in setting up some livelihood activity so that they can stand on their own feet