Author: Annie Wang - John Alex
In May 2021, the Delta wave of cases and deaths caused widespread devastation in India. Some estimates projected a staggering peak of nearly 40,000 deaths per day. While front page news focused on the shortage of oxygen supply and hospital beds, the challenge of immunizing such a populous country was undeniable: less than 3% of India’s population had received a two-dose regimen of COVID-19 vaccines and misinformation around vaccinations was rampant. Opportunity International Australia (Opportunity) works alongside MFIs like Equitas Small Finance Bank (Equitas), socially focused financial service providers with enormous capacity for large-scale and rapid community mobilisation. There’s a tremendous opportunity to leverage the core assets and competencies of MFIs – grassroots social mobilisation, last mile distribution network and existing trusted relationships in communities – to support the critical nation-wide immunization efforts on the road to post-COVID-19 recovery in India and other emerging markets. Opportunity, Equitas Development Initiatives Trust (the charitable trust created alongside the commercial Equitas entity) and local state government stakeholders together developed an innovative public-private partnership (PPP) model to address vaccine access in last-mile and vulnerable communities.