From MicroCapital: Clients Come Clean on Sneaking Contraception, Practitioners Move from Serving Women to Empowering Households
During the closing day of European Microfinance Week, Imran Matin of the US-based nonprofit Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) stressed the importance of not just whether women will use financial services, but "what account ownership will translate into in terms of achievement." Foreshadowing a theme of the session, he added that "intra-household dynamics is very important and also particularly difficult to measure."
Bdour Al-Hyari of Jordan's Microfund for Women (MFW) described a long-running insurance product offered by her microfinance institution (MFI). The coverage provides cash to clients who are hospitalized or have a family member who is. While health issues were a major cause of default in the past, women who got "hospital cash" from MFW reportedly repaid their loans at a rate of 100 percent. Moreover, Ms Al-Hyari described the "cognitive change" that the women experienced. Ten years ago, the women often wanted a refund after not needing the benefit for a significant period of time. Now, she said, they understand that their neighbor benefits from the money they spent even if they don't benefit personally.
Mr Matin then described a randomized control trial on a commitment savings product in the Philippines. Thirty months after the introduction of the product, users had increased their savings as well as purchases of durable goods. The effects were even stronger for women who started in positions of lower bargaining power.
Bobbi Gray of the US-based Grameen Foundation described an example in Burkina Faso in which researchers found that women's caregiving responsibilities only allowed them to spend two hours per day on the enterprises for which they had borrowed money. She said that this means we should adjust our expectations of business outcomes. That is, we can't always expect women to earn the payback that you would estimate based on 8-hour workdays.
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