Featured Stories

One Way our Partners are Redefining “Productivity”


by Lara Diaconu, vice president, Health Services Fund, Global Partnerships

A couple weeks ago I moderated a panel on sustainable health services models at the 6th Village Banking Forum held this year in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Two of our partners, Pro Mujer in Nicaragua and ESPOIR, presented what they had learned about what it takes to implement high performing health services programs via the village bank platform. While much was shared, one main takeaway I had was the importance of investing in staff capacity, particularly investing in those on the “frontline” of integrated service delivery with clients.

One striking example was made by Gloria Ruiz, general manager of Pro Mujer in Nicaragua. She shared how one day of every week is spent training their credit officers – on health topics, on sales techniques, on participatory education techniques, on human development and financial education - skills, values, and knowledge that credit officers need to be able to stimulate conversations among clients, transmit key information about how to prevent and manage prevalent health conditions, and promote health services and behavior changes that can improve lives.

Investing in staff capacity may sound like a no-brainer. However, dedicating one day a week to staff development is a strategic (and costly) decision but one they believe is worth it to better serve their clients. Quick calculations indicate that the economic tradeoff for investing in building staff capacity results in a loss of thousands of dollars in potential income for the institution. This means an increase in costs per client which decreases productivity and efficiency, standard measures used to assess microfinance institutions.

That is to say that “productivity” of credit officers is generally interpreted to be a key indicator of institutional strength, as the more clients each credit officer can manage, the lower the costs per client to deliver a loan, and therefore, potentially the more profitable the institution. Lower costs per client is also key for those institutions with a mission to serve lower income segments, as it renders it more economically feasible to deliver lower average loan sizes. These key operational indicators signal to both senior management and the microfinance industry how streamlined an institution’s processes are, and how competitively they can price their financial services in the market. To all of this, Gloria simply stated, “We have redefined productivity.” In this instance, productivity is defined by strengthening their staff capacity to provide the essential knowledge, information and services to meet the needs of their clients effectively even if it means less income for the institution.

Pro Mujer’s approach enables them to deliver quality education and services that improve the health opportunities for women micro-entrepreneurs in Nicaragua. It’s a bold, strategic decision but it is very much aligned with their commitment to do what it takes to be more than just a financial services provider.

Blog Tags: community banking   Ecuador   Espoir   financial inclusion   Latin America   microfinance   Pro Mujer   VI Foro Latinoamericano de Banca Comunal   village bank   

Global Partnerships' Lara Diaconu sits in between two of our partners--Espoir and Pro Mujer in Nicaragua.
Lara Diaconu (center) moderates a panel on sustainable health service models featuring two of our partners, Espoir (represented by Executive Director Francisco Moreno on the left) and Pro Mujer in Nicaragua (represented by General Manager Gloria Ruiz on the right). Photo © Global Partnerships 2013.

What’s it like to Intern at GP?


We were lucky enough to have several student interns join our team this summer and wanted to take a moment to highlight their hard work and accomplishments, as well as what they’ve learned about impact investing, global development, and the nonprofit space. They worked throughout GP in different departments, including development, green technology, and marketing and communications. We will miss having them around after they return to school this fall!

Meet our Interns:     

Morgan Babbs and a MiCredito loan officer.
Morgan Babbs is a rising junior at Tufts University double majoring in economics and international relations with a focus on development economics. She joined GP’s Green Technology team as a field intern in Managua, Nicaragua, where she assisted a new GP partner, MiCrédito, in implementing its budding solar product lending program. Morgan is pictured with Denis Membreño, a MiCrédito credit officer and one of her colleagues over the summer. To learn more about Morgan’s work and the challenges in bridging the energy gap in rural Nicaragua, you can read her blog post here.

Josh Ewing is entering his freshman year this fall at Washington State University, where he intends to major in civil engineering. He worked closely with Nathalia Rodríguez Vega, GP’s financial and economic analyst, and received training on how to build a Microsoft Access database before he helped start construction of a library of impact investing reports and materials for GP’s internal use.

amelia intern pic
Amelia Merritt attends New York University and is entering her junior year this fall. She is majoring in media, culture, and communications and minoring in both social entrepreneurship and French. As an intern for the marketing and communications team, Amelia aided in various projects, including the promotion of GP’s new website. Her main project consisted of researching various methods of analyzing social media metrics and developing a plan of action to optimize our social media channels.

ella intern pic
Ella Van Cleve is a rising junior at The Northwest School in Seattle and interned with the marketing and communications team. Her main projects included helping with the launch of GP’s new website and composing social media posts. Ella also completed an in-depth research project on Google AdWords optimization. She subsequently implemented her findings into the structure of GP’s AdWords campaigns.

Helena Victor attends Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, where she will soon begin her fourth semester as a math and economics double major; she also hopes to minor in anthropology. As the development intern this summer, the majority of Helena’s work focused on organizing GP’s fall events, including the Business of Hope Luncheon and the Escala celebration.

Questions and Answers:    

1. How did you hear about GP and why did you decide to intern here?

“I’ve been interested in global health/foreign aid for a long time. When I heard about Global Partnerships from a close friend a few years ago, I immediately took interest because I strongly believe that GP creates a ripple effect that produces lasting, impactful results. [I believe that…] through improving the economic situation of an individual, we can create a ripple effect that improves all aspects of his/her life, including health, education, etc.” – Helena

“A good friend of mine talked to me about someone he knew in Seattle […] that worked with various organizations in Latin America– this "someone" was Peter Bladin (VP of GP’s Green Technology Fund)! My main field of interest in development economics is access to financial resources, so I was drawn to GP's mission from the start. Furthermore, this past semester I planned a social innovation symposium at Tufts, where I got my first exposure to impact investing, something I've been really into since then. Lastly, concerning microfinance institutions, I've always been drawn to the organizations that take the extra step to offer more than just credit-- things like financial literacy courses, community development, or access to technologies-- which is what GP focuses on with many of its partners.” – Morgan

“I was excited to apply to be an intern for Global Partnerships’ marketing and communications team after hearing about it through a family member. I wanted to be a part of the organization’s innovative work, pioneering a fresh, sustainable method of financial growth for families and individuals living in poverty in lieu of the traditional system of aid that has a high potential of relapse.” – Amelia

2. Please share one thing you learned during your internship about impact investing, global development, or a career in the nonprofit space.

“I learned that everyone in the nonprofit space works extremely hard, and it is a collaborative and team effort. The departments are smaller, so each member of each department has a lot of responsibilities and there must be communication between different departments for the organization to run smoothly.” – Ella

“Since I was working with the Green Tech fund and aiming to provide solar products through a microfinance institution (MFI) by partnering with solar tech companies in Managua, it was interesting to learn about the pros and cons of investing in an MFI versus a solar tech company to get maximum impact. Both present challenges, but investing in an MFI provides the benefit of a fully developed network of clients, a strong community influence and positive reputation, and an extremely well-trained, experienced, and knowledgeable staff keen on delivering excellent customer service.” – Morgan

“I learned through my internship that there is a big field for impact investing. I also learned that there are a lot of people with a lot of money are out there who are looking for sustainable ways of helping people living in poverty.” – Josh

3. How do you think what you learned and experienced at GP will apply to your future studies/career?

“Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn no longer conceal mystical algorithms or seemingly haphazard page displays; I have deeply researched the inner workings of these social media platforms as well as investigated several new sites such as Klout and Paper.li. This research project has grown my colloquial understanding of social media into a solid skill and expertise that I am able to offer to both nonprofit and for-profit companies.” – Amelia

“I feel that with the work I did building an internal library, I can now create a basic database that is user friendly for myself and others to keep things tidy.” – Josh

“I don't think I could have asked for a better experience. The mix of tasks–spending tons of time in the field, meeting with tech suppliers, working with credit officers, developing microbusiness models, planning methods of product delivery, working with financial models... It gave me such a well rounded experience that will apply to any sort of development work I plan to do–it was excellent to get some pilot program implementation experience under my belt. Lastly, considering that access to financial resources is my main interest in development, it was great to see how the network for an MFI can be tapped into to provide even further resources for development.” – Morgan

4. What did you enjoy most about your internship?

"I loved the diversity of tasks. At the end of my internship I put together an info session for people interested in selling the small solar products. Two attendees signed up for a loan right then and there and they were given a consignment product to try out for a week. The cherry on top was that one of them was a man that I was sitting next to on my bus commute out to the field one day that I just happened to ask if he was interested in selling solar products. Sometimes the answer is right in front of you!" – Morgan

"I do my best work when I feel some responsibility for the projects on which I'm working, and [my projects at GP] really gave me something to be excited about!" – Helena

“I really enjoyed seeing the "behind the scenes" work of a nonprofit. In this day and age, social media can help make or break companies and organizations, and I loved being a part of the social media process.”  – Ella

“Global Partnerships was truly invested in my professional growth, not just my completion of the work that was assigned. They had an immense interest in my mastery of specific skills that I had mentioned were of interest and they continually checked in and made sure I was benefiting as much as I possibly could from the internship.”  – Amelia

Volunteer with us:    

  •  Please click here to see volunteer opportunities in our fundraising department.
  •  Please click here to see active internship opportunities.

Blog Tags: communications   development   intern   internships   volunteer   

A woman peels beans by the light of a solar lamp.
As part of her internship, Morgan Babbs traveled throughout rural Nicaragua with our new partner MiCrédito to raise awareness about the benefits of solar lights. She conducted numerous product demonstrations to show how solar lights can improve productivity at night. The client pictured is testing out one of several solar light products. Photo © Global Partnerships 2013.

How Social Enterprises Use Different Business Models to Make an Impact


While all of our partners are classified as social enterprises – mission-driven organizations which apply market-sustained strategies to achieve a social purpose – each employ different business models that catalyze the flow of essential goods and services to people living in poverty. Here are a few examples:

  • Pro Mujer International utilizes a village bank model to integrate credit with health education and services. The village bank channel helps Pro Mujer mitigate credit risks, as a system of cross-guarantees strengthens repayment rates. This model also allows Pro Mujer to conduct its loan collection and deliver non-financial services in an efficient, cost-effective manner.
  • Our partners within our Rural Livelihoods impact area make use of a variety of business models to provide credit, technical assistance and commercialization services to smallholder farmers throughout the region. Los Andes, structured as a credit and savings cooperative, delivers credit, education and health services to its members; because members own the entity, the cost of these services is affordable and tailored to meet their needs. NORANDINO, also a credit and savings cooperative, serves smaller fair trade and organic certified cooperatives with credit and savings products, while its member-cooperatives provide certification training and access to specialty markets to NORANDINO’s member-farmers.
  • Within our Green Technology impact area, we’re exploring models that enable access to solar-powered products for last mile, non-electrified communities. While some of our cooperative and MFI partners provide financing for solar products, we are also looking at models of social enterprises that design, manufacture and/or distribute solar light and power products in the developing world.

From our observation, the best models protect against excessive credit risk, are market-sustained, scalable, and serve as efficient distribution platforms for appropriate services beyond credit. As a nonprofit impact investor, we will continue to uncover and invest in a variety of business models that advance our mission of expanding opportunity for people living in poverty.

Learn more:   

  • Read our latest Investors Report, which covers the second quarter of 2013 (April 1-June 30, 2013), and provides a sneak peak at one of our newest partners, Pro-Rural in Bolivia.
  • Discover more about all 37 of our current partners by checking out their profiles, photos, videos, and "impact in action stories" in our interactive partner grid.

Blog Tags: cooperatives   fair trade   Latin America      village bank   

A Pro-Rural member refines wood.
A member of Pro-Rural, a Bolivian non-governmental organization and a new GP partner, refines wood. Learn more about them in our second quarter Investors Report: http://bit.ly/1a5oBKM. Photo c/o Pro-Rural.

Three Challenges in Bridging the Energy Gap in Nicaragua


by Morgan Babbs, Green Technology field associate intern, Global Partnerships. Morgan is a rising junior at Tufts University, majoring in economics and international relations, with a focus on development economics. Morgan spent her internship navigating through rural terrains in the extreme heat of a Nicaraguan summer with a MiCrédito loan officer; together, they raised awareness about the benefits of solar energy to rural, off-grid communities that lack access to electricity. Morgan reported to our GreenTech team in Seattle and served as our contact on the ground as we continue to assist MiCrédito in the formation of its new solar-lending program.

MiCrédito is a new Global Partnerships (GP) partner in Nicaragua that aims to connect rural, off-grid populations with access to solar technologies. With technical assistance and funding from GP, as well as new relationships with Nicaraguan solar companies Tecnosol and NicaSolar, the social enterprise will begin offering financing for solar products, thus potentially connecting thousands with electricity that they otherwise could not access.

My role was to work on-site with MiCrédito full time, and work with their staff on the ground to design and implement a solar lending portfolio. With daily direction from the GreenTech team, I assisted MiCrédito in establishing partnerships with solar suppliers, overseeing product movement from suppliers to MiCrédito clients, and developing models of product delivery for both the large solar home systems and the smaller solar lamps. I learned a great deal during my two month internship, and would like to share three main challenges that GP is addressing in its GreenTech work with MiCrédito:

Challenge #1: How do we connect rural, off-grid populations with electricity?

MiCrédito’s pilot solar-lending program is currently operating in its Teustepe branch (one of seven branches), an extremely rural area where 70% of households do not have access to electricity. Most households spend anywhere between $2 and $10 dollars per month on alternative lighting solutions such as kerosene, candles, or battery powered flashlights. Furthermore, most households need to send one or two cell phones into town twice a week for charging. Not only are such “solutions” insufficient, but they are also costly, harmful to one’s health and the environment, and limit productive hours of the day.

Solution    

GP is helping MiCrédito innovate its product offerings by establishing a wider range to accommodate clients with varying financial capacities. It is also assisting MiCrédito in designing distribution channels that can reach these rural families. GP’s provision of technical assistance comes from its ability to leverage its connections to local solar suppliers, provide knowledge of different business models, and share experiences designing solutions to similar problems.

With GP’s support, MiCrédito will be able to provide households with appropriate solar technologies; clients have the option to take out a loan to invest in large solar home systems that can power several light bulbs and a television/ radio, or they can instead purchase smaller, more affordable solutions such as solar lamps that include cell charging capability. Providing access to the larger solar home systems is rather straightforward because clients would just need to apply for a loan with MiCrédito. The bigger challenge in implementing MiCrédito’s solar program is the provision of access to the smaller solar products.

Challenge #2: How do we deliver smaller, more affordable solar solutions?

For a household that spends $2-$10 per month in lighting expenses and cell phone charging, an investment in a $50 dual solar lamp and cell phone charger pays for itself in just a year. Additionally, considering that the product has a 5+ year battery life, the investment provides benefits to families for years to come. However, because MiCredito’s minimum loan amount is $100, it means they are unable to finance smaller-scale solar solutions such as the $50 dual solar lamp and cell phone charger. 

Solution

GP is working alongside MiCrédito to design and implement a potential business solution which consists of MiCrédito recruiting solar micro-resellers from its client base. This accomplishes three things:

1. MiCrédito can provide clients with loans to buy a large quantity (at least $100 worth) of solar products. GP is helping MiCrédito with the design of this loan product.

2. Client resellers serve as a valuable distribution channel of solar products to rural areas because of their connections to local communities.

3. Clients can earn additional income from solar product sales.

Challenge #3: Building a network of solar micro-resellers

Currently, it is a challenge to recruit clients that are willing to sell solar products. This is caused in part by lack of awareness of the benefits of solar products.

Solution

MiCrédito loan officers host micro-reseller info sessions for current clients; attendees are shown solar product demonstrations and receive basic sales tactics based on GP and MiCrédito’s experience in the field. Attendees are also informed of their possible loan term and amount. The first info session took place in the last two weeks; two men decided to sign up for a loan and test out the market for themselves with a consignment product. If all goes well, they’ll return in a week and finalize the loan request and MiCrédito will have its first two solar micro-resellers/microentrepreneurs.

In the past two months I have seen GP and MiCrédito’s pro-poor delivery system come together quite well. Providing credit for solar products through MiCrédito means that we’re able to tap into their understanding of the socio-cultural context, and adapt sales to their client demographic.

Blog Tags: last mile distribution   Latin America   Nicaragua      solar energy   solar light   

A group of MiCrédito clients meet for an info session about solar technologies.
MiCrédito, a Nicaraguan social enterprise and new GP partner, hosts an info session about the benefits of solar technology and tries to recruit micro-resellers to form a distribution channel. © Global Partnerships 2013

Accelerating Social Entrepreneurship in Latin America


by Amelia Merritt, marketing and communications intern, Global Partnerships

Earlier this year we had the pleasure of meeting Agora Partnerships, an  organization committed to solving social and environmental challenges in Latin America through business-based solutions, and we wanted to take a moment to highlight what they do. We wanted to spotlight Agora because of our ongoing interest in organizations that support new social/impact enterprises* that show promise in expanding opportunity for people living in poverty. Agora does this by catalyzing the development and growth of up-and-coming “impact enterprises” through its six-month Impact Accelerator program.

The nine year-old organization recognizes that early-stage impact entrepreneurs who are willing to create businesses that meet a double bottom line often lack the financial resources and technical skills needed to succeed. That’s where Agora’s Impact Accelerator Program comes into play: early stage “impact entrepreneurs” are connected with the necessary start-up capital, mentoring, and technical assistance needed to build a sustainable business model to generate the maximum social impact. In Agora’s own words: “human potential + capital = impact”; Agora contributes the “capital” by tapping into its network of investors, experienced entrepreneurs, and knowledgeable mentors.

The Impact Accelerator Program helped María Rodríguez of Guatemala develop her natural fertilizer business, ByoEarth. To create an alternative to local farmers’ use of harmful, chemical fertilizers, ByoEarth produces a natural, sustainable fertilizer by utilizing the digestive power of worms. What's more, the creation of this eco-friendly fertilizer generates jobs for women living in and around Guatemala City. María’s organization is one of the 45 impact enterprises Agora Partnerships is serving to better leverage business for good.

To participate in Agora’s Impact Accelerator Program, impact entrepreneurs must submit a competitive application describing your business model and the impact it creates by solving problem in your community. Agora Partnerships is currently searching for 30 Latin American companies to be part of their class of 2014. The program consists of four components:

  1. A retreat in Central America where participants will aid in building the Agora community and network
  2. Strategy consulting and investment readiness services
  3. Attendance at the Impact Investing in Action conference in the United States
  4. Deal closing services to help entrepreneurs connect with the right investor

If you know of Latin American impact entrepreneurs that could benefit from Agora’s program, please contact Sara Cordero at scordero@agorapartnerships.org or visit the program’s website. The deadline to apply is September 13, 2013.

 *Impact Entrepreneur: An impact entrepreneur is a person who is intentionally using his/her business to solve a social, economic, or environmental problem in his/her community. Impact entrepreneurs run companies that are managed with the intent of creating shared value and consider the long-term effects of daily business decisions.

Blog Tags: Agora Partnerships   environment   impact entrepreneurship   Latin America      

Photo of Agora Partnerships’ class of 2013
The 2013 class of Agora impact entrepreneurs on their retreat in Managua, Nicaragua. Photo courtesy of Agora Partnerships.

GP Attends Village Bank Conference in Ecuador


by Lara Diaconu, vice president of the Health Services Fund at Global Partnerships (GP), and Ricardo Visbal, vice president of portfolio management at GP

Members of our team are in Guayaquil, Ecuador this week to attend the Sixth Latin American Forum on Village Banks (VI Foro Latinoamericano de Banca Comunal/the Forum) from August 7-9. The Forum is a regional conference that brings together actors in the financial inclusion space to discuss different methods of strengthening village banks*—one of the only means by which people living in poverty can access affordable financial services such as loans and savings accounts.

The Forum is hosted by the Rural Financial Network (Red Financiera Rural/RFR), an organization which consists of “43 Ecuadorian microfinance institutions (MFIs) that serve approximately 930,000 micro and small producers [throughout Ecuador].” Although the organization’s primary focus is community banking in Ecuador, RFR also aims to improve community banking throughout the rest of Latin America.  

In pursuit of this goal, hundreds will converge at the Forum to attend workshops, exchange ideas, and attend field visits.

Lara Diaconu, vice president of our Health Services Fund will moderate a panel called “Sustainable Models of Village Bank and Health Services.” The objective of the panel is to share perspectives on how village bank-based institutions can serve as sustainable platforms to deliver high impact and highly valued health services to clients in a sustainable way. Panelists will include representatives from our partners, including Gloria Ruiz, CEO of Pro Mujer in Nicaragua, and Francisco Moreno, CEO of ESPOIR (Ecuador). Amelia Kuklewicz from Freedom from Hunger’s Ecuador office will also participate on the panel. Panelists will speak to what benefits and challenges are implicit in the strategic decision to integrate health services into their respective institution’s mission and operations.

Ricardo Visbal, vice president of portfolio management in our Nicaragua office, will also attend the Forum to receive updates on trends in the Ecuadorian microfinance industry. Furthermore, he will meet with many of our partners that are attending the conference in order to collect updates on progress in the non-financial aspects of their work (i.e. health services, microentrepreneurship education, etc.). An additional objective is to meet with potential new partners to learn about their work, and to share with them the ways that the MFI channel can be leveraged to deliver essential non-financial services.

While in Ecuador, Ricardo will also conduct field visits to health clinics and village bank meetings administered by current partners Fundación Alternativa, Espoir and D-MIRO. During these visits, Ricardo aims to interview our partners’ management and speak with their clients in order to learn:

  • How  microentrepreneurship education can be delivered to individual credit clients that don´t attend village bank meetings;
  • If clients find the services they are receiving to be useful;
  • How Espoir, one of the partners in our Health Services Fund, is progressing in its health work; and
  • The differences between a pre-paid health services model versus a health insurance model.

Subscribe to our blog so that you don’t miss our update on what happens at the Forum. For more information on the Forum, contact forobancacomunal@rfr.org.ec or visit (Spanish site) http://pro-savings.org/es/vi-foro-latinoamericano-de-banca-comunal

*Village banking is a method of financial services administration that ensures access to financial services for people living in poverty. This is made possible by keeping loan administration costs low, and by removing the need for collateral. A village bank consists of a self governing, self selected group of individuals from the same village or community that band together to receive a lump sum of credit from a microfinance institution. The village bank then divides and distributes the lump sum into smaller loans for individual village bank members. Each member acts as a guarantor for the other, thus creating a system of cross-guarantees.      

Question for our readers:   
What are some of the benefits of village banking for people living in poverty? We'd like to hear from you! Please leave a comment below.

Blog Tags: Ecuador   Espoir   Freedom from Hunger   Latin America   microfinance   Pro Mujer   VI Foro Latinoamericano de Banca Comunal   village banking   

A Fundación Alternativa credit officer shows a client how to formalize her business.
During a field visit this week with Fundación Alternativa, a microfinance institution and one of our partners in Ecuador, Ricardo Visbal, vice president of portfolio management, and Mark Coffey, chief investment and operations officer, watched as an Alternativa credit officer (left) provided a client with coaching to formalize her business, i.e. how to: obtain a business permit, pay taxes, and register employees. In doing so, Alternativa helps the client avoid any legal fines for improper business operation, which also mitigates the MFI’s own credit risk.

What Does it Take to Deliver Health Services in Haiti?


by Lara Diaconu, vice president of the Health Services Fund at Global Partnerships

During my visit to Haiti last month, I met with a Haitian social entrepreneur named Dr. Ronald LaRoche, who manages DASH (Développment des Activités de Santé en Haïti), a network of health facilities that currently provides preventive, primary and secondary health services to 40,000 people living in the country’s two largest cities—Port-au-Prince and Cap Haitien.

Meeting with Dr. LaRoche was fascinating because we’re always eager to learn about effective, sustainable and scalable services that expand opportunity for people living in poverty, and the capital required to catalyze them. Delivering sustainable health care services in an economic and political environment as complex as Haiti’s is no small feat. As in many Latin American countries, the government’s health system simply does not have the capacity to deliver health care to everyone, everywhere; an overwhelming majority of health care in Haiti is currently delivered by the private sector, often linked to religious missions or NGOs supported by donor funding. And yet, 50% of the population continues to lack access to health care and essential drugs. The need in Haiti for a sustainable health solution persists, paradoxically while a substantial amount of aid money donated following the 2010 earthquake has yet to be spent. At the same time, we are painfully aware that charity can sometimes do more harm than good– Dr. LaRoche referenced several private hospital closures due to the influx of “free” health services that came with earthquake response funding—begging the question, how can philanthropy be invested well to support sustainable scalable health care models?

It appears that DASH’s current strategy might be one example. Dr. LaRoche founded DASH 30 years ago and has sustained and grown this private health care business using an HMO-like system, whereby subscribers gain access to different packages of services for either $1 or $10 per month. To date, these packages have scaled by marketing them to employers – factories and private enterprises – who purchase them for their workers.

DASH also offers a $5 per month package for individuals, which provides the same access to preventive and unlimited primary care consults covered by the $1 per month package, but also covers medicines and diagnostic lab exams with a reasonable co-pay. To date, this package has exclusively been purchased by international humanitarian agencies using donations; the beneficiaries among the hundreds of thousands of Haitians still living in temporary settlements. What will happen when aid runs out and these healthcare subsidies end? Will this population continue to purchase the health services package on their own? If not, what would the effect be on DASH operations? Would DASH need to close facilities if demand drops off? Where will this population go for health services, and how will they pay for them?

In anticipation of these two plausible events, Dr. LaRoche plans to launch a massive door to door  marketing campaign to sell the $5 per month package, with a goal to enroll 100,000 new users and invest in an additional 10 new health facilities in the next two years. Their business plans achieve sustainability when each health facility serves at least 10,000 clients. In order to achieve this growth in subscriptions, however, with this new product and sales channel, up front capital is needed to: build the infrastructure; hire and train medical and sales personnel; and to roll out the marketing campaign.

DASH will invest grant monies from the Inter-American Development Bank/Multilateral Investment Fund (IDB/MIF) to launch this marketing effort, while investing its own profits to expand infrastructure. Although DASH may have grown to 100,000 additional clients enrolled and 10 additional sites established without any grants or donations, it certainly would have taken much longer. What happens when this two year grant expires? If successful, 100,000 new subscriptions will be active within two years, representing $6 million in annual revenue that presumably will sustain the delivery of health services to those clients over time. The difference between DASH’s venture philanthropy approach and a traditional charity approach is that the DASH model catalyzes a sustainable business plan (assuming there is demand for the product), thus benefitting more people—sooner—and over the long run.

We look forward to staying in touch with the DASH efforts, and to learning more about:

  • What costs and strategies are involved in  launching a successful marketing campaign to reach this market segment with this product;
  • Does a commission-based model deliver results in terms of sales of health services packages, and what is required to sustain this model?
  • What are the elements of a $5/month services package that are most appealing to the BoP population in Haiti, and is there sufficient economic capacity for this price point?

Question for our readers:    
What do you think it takes to build a sustainable & scalable health solution in Haiti or other developing regions of the world?  We'd like to hear from you! Please leave us a comment/question below so that we can start a conversation with you!

Blog Tags: Caribbean   Haiti   Venture Philanthropy   

A Haitian child gets screened for malnutrition.
A child of a client served by GP’s partner in Haiti, Fonkoze, gets screened for malnutrition. Learn more about our work with Fonkoze at: www.globalpartnerships.org/partners. Photo c/o Fonkoze

Going Beyond Microfinance


Microfinance has been promoted as one of the most successful economic innovations for global financial inclusion for people living in poverty. Yet, a recent study and several articles have come out questioning the value of traditional microfinance institutions to permanently lift people out of poverty. While there’s plenty of data suggesting that it has been successful at ‘poverty alleviation,’ some argue that the same cannot be said about ‘poverty reduction.’* Hard data measuring the success of traditional microfinance in terms of permanent poverty reduction remains elusive.

Our roots were built on the promise of microfinance to help alleviate poverty (relieve the stresses of poverty) and we were pioneers in investing in microfinance organizations. But as we've grown, we’ve learned that it takes more than access to capital to permanently reduce poverty. It also requires integrated services in addition to capital. That’s why we’ve shifted from investing solely in microfinance institutions (MFIs) to investing in a variety of socially-motivated organizations including cooperatives and social enterprises as well as MFIs. We select organizations that can deliver capital along with additional services within our 4 impact areas, including health care, technical assistance (for small-scale farmers), affordable solar lighting, and business/financial education (for microentrepreneurs).  

As a nonprofit impact investor, there are 3 things that differentiate us from microfinance institutions:

  1. We do not give loans directly to individuals.
  2. We use different sources of capital that include both investment loans and grants.
  3. We invest in organizations beyond the realm of microfinance institutions including cooperatives and social enterprises.

In addition to the above, we deploy our capital to catalyze promising solutions. This means we can explore and learn about new ways to expand opportunity for people living in poverty.  

*From Chris Dunford’s CGAP blog post, March 2013. Dunford is the former president & current senior fellow of Freedom from Hunger.

Learn more:

  1. Read about GP’s model.
  2. Where impact investing meets microfinance” published by CGAP.
  3. How Evidence is helping us reframe our perspective on microfinance” by Chris Dunford.

 

Blog Tags: cooperatives   microfinance   poverty      

GP’s director of fund performance, Tara Murphy Forde meets with 3 Crediflorida team members.
Our team conducts regular visits with partners to monitor their economic and social impact. Tara Murphy Forde (left), Director of Fund Performance, meets with members of Crediflorida, a fair-trade coffee cooperative and GP partner in Peru, that provides access to technical assistance and commercialization services in addition to tailored credit products. Read more about Crediflorida at www.globalpartnerships.org/partners. © 2013 Global Partnerships