Following two years of uncertainty and financial hardship, 2022 has been swept up by political tensions and economic turbulence that continues to shake the financial stability of people all around the world. These impacts are especially being felt by low-income women and men in developing countries. Despite these privations, FINCA Canada projects that both Haiti and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) were able to meet and, in some cases, even exceed their targets as members continue to demonstrate their resilience in the face of ongoing challenges. In partnership with the Government of Canada, FINCA Canada’s Financial Inclusion Project provides further analysis of the impact of their financial training, products and solutions and how they differ between both men and women in impoverished nations.
This month, FINCA Canada launched the Financial Inclusion Project year five mid-year report, which found that overall, the per-capita income of FINCA clients continues on a slow but steady increase in both countries, with particularly robust income growth among repeat and female clients. In the DRC, the growth in per-capita income is also reflected in lower rates of poverty among FINCA clients, demonstrating the utility of financial tools and education to lift women up in more ways than one.
Exceeding project goals and expectations
Several of the Financial Inclusion Project indicators of success are progressing well ahead of schedule. An important baseline for spurring financial inclusion and literacy training is showing remarkable levels of adoption in both countries. In Haiti, FINCA Canada not only achieved their year-end goal but nearly doubled the client number target, with a total of 93,042 clients trained, 91 percent of which were women. In the DRC, the end of project goal of 225,963 clients trained was also surpassed early in the year, but many have since been lost due to the multiple economic crises that hit the country. However, FINCA DRC remains optimistic about once again achieving its target, as signs of recovery are beginning to bloom, including expanding construction in the region and the stabilizing of local currency.
In Haiti, the agriculture loan product also continued to be successful, especially among women. With 1,822 beneficiaries (82 percent women), FINCA Haiti has already surpassed the end of project target of 1,400 clients (60 percent women). These clients are served by 32 hybrid loan officers trained in the revised agriculture loan product, exceeding the end of project target of 25 agriculture loan officers trained.
Juste Pour Elle, the loan product designed for women in the DRC, also achieved a remarkable outreach with 1,378 women beneficiaries and a total loan disbursement of approximately CAD $9.2 million in just over a year since its launch.
Other key milestones in Haiti and the DRC include:
- Expanded access to financial services: Access points include branches, agents and mobile banking. In the DRC, there were four financial access points for every 1,000 clients at the end of March 2022, reflecting an improvement from the results of September 2021 which had 3.86 access points for every 1,000 clients. FINCA Haiti had 1.67 branches and service outlets for every 1,000 clients, which represents an improvement over last year’s result of 1.52.
- Increased reach to target clients: During the first 6-months of 2022, FINCA Haiti added 12,533 new clients. The DRC gained 50,000 new clients.
- Growing capacity-building programs: During the reporting period, 11 new modules belonging to three different sets of training programs were developed, translated into French and implemented in both Haiti and the DRC. Courses cover gender equality in the financial sector, diversity, equity and inclusion in the workforce, and basics of personal financial health and gender-related barriers.
Support is still desperately needed to continue advancing financial inclusion in Haiti and the DRC, as ongoing social, political and economic influences limit access to resources and jeopardize overall financial wellbeing. Threats to public safety in both countries have challenged client retention, as access to the financial resources, which are commonly favoured by low-income women, including in-person agents and POS systems, have become restricted. As these conditions have increased reliance on mobile and digital solutions, FINCA continues to focus on enhancing public understanding and adoption of these alternatives.
Having a better understanding of how to tailor FINCA products and services to the needs of our clients, with a focus on women, will be essential to continuing to help clients through these trying times. FINCA Canada has recently completed several surveys and has since launched a variety of training programs and courses to ensure that staff are best equipped to help clients navigate the path to financial prosperity. In partnership with the Government of Canada, FINCA remains committed to provide struggling individuals and communities with an opportunity to pull themselves out of poverty and better achieve financial freedom, in both the good times and the bad.
Click here to learn more about FINCA Canada’s work towards increasing financial access in impoverished communities.