Microfinance & Health Integration

Why Integrate Microfinance and Health Protection Services?

Many of the 1.29 billion people in the developing world who live on less than $1.25 a day are one illness away from losing everything. The relationship between ill health and poverty is inextricable, and for microfinance clients, sickness is often the main reason for failure to repay loans and the collapse of promising businesses. The Microcredit Summit Campaign has identified that one of the most effective methods of mitigating the risk of health challenges to both clients and microfinance institutions is to integrate microfinance and health protection services.

The Campaign began its work on integrating microfinance and health in 2002 with the aim of globally expanding a proven and innovative self-sustaining model of integration through the creation of a worldwide network of trainers. Since the mid-2000s, the Microcredit Summit Campaign and Freedom from Hunger have collaborated to promote the integration of microfinance and health protection services.

This collaboration brings together a diverse set of influential actors from the microfinance, health, public, and private sectors. We have partnered with microfinance organizations to increase their capacity to integrate health education and other health services into their operations through trainings in Asia, Latin America, and Africa. The Campaign and Freedom from Hunger collaborate to support, document, and foster best practice, monitoring and evaluation, and innovation in the field in microfinance and health protection.

Building on this collaboration and with support from Johnson & Johnson, in 2011, the two organizations formed a Health and Microfinance Alliance to leverage their technical expertise and communications platforms for the specific purpose of building support for and expanding the practice of integrating microfinance and health.

Learn more by reading the 2012 State of the Field Report and share information about this project with your colleagues. (Download the Alliance flyer and read about the Health and Microfinance Alliance on our blog.)

The Health and Microfinance Alliance

The Health and Microfinance Alliance, established by the Microcredit Summit Campaign and Freedom from Hunger, provides access to an international team of microfinance, health, and development practitioners, researchers and policy makers working with microfinance organizations around the world to implement and test innovative approaches to address poverty.

Independently and collaboratively, the two organizations are working with numerous institutions in India (see here), and in other countries to help these institutions add health protection to the range of services they provide to clients. These services include:

  • Health education on prevention of HIV and AIDS, TB, malaria, and on basic nutrition and treatments for childhood illnesses;
  • Linkages to health care providers and products; and
  • Health financing such as health loans, health savings, and health microinsurance.

Using India as a demonstration of what can be achieved globally, the Health and Microfinance Alliance is currently disseminating methodologies, tools, and products to build the capacity of 28 institutions serving India’s poor. By continuing to innovate, and aggressively replicate successful interventions, over the next 5 years the Alliance expects to:

  • Reach 700,000 microfinance clients in India with integrated microfinance and health protection services (MAHP) services that can improve health and financial security for themselves and their families and are sustainably delivered. This outreach is expected to affect 3.7 million client household members.
  • Engage a more diverse community of practitioners that includes many more influential actors from the health, self-help and financial sectors, as well as policymakers, researchers and donors-and expand the work beyond India.

Project Updates

Through the Health and Microfinance Alliance, the Microcredit Summit Campaign and Freedom from Hunger are actively working with 34 microfinance institutions (MFIs), self-help group promoting institutions (SHPIs), and networks in India who are reaching a total of 410,348 clients and 2,051,740 family members with microfinance and health protection (MAHP) services. This number continues to grow every month as our partners scale up their operations and new partners join the Alliance.

Strategic Partners

Freedom from Hunger – www.freedomfromhunger.org

Freedom from Hunger is an international development organization dedicated to bringing innovative and sustainable support to the self-help efforts of very poor families around the world. Freedom from Hunger partners with local organizations to demonstrate the value of these innovations and trains those partners to implement the programs sustainably. To ensure that our programs are beneficial and sustainable, we conduct extensive research, evaluate and monitor for impacts, and distribute successful interventions as widely as possible for others to adopt and adapt in their own anti-hunger and anti-poverty efforts. As of June 2011, Freedom from Hunger has trained and supported 150 partner organizations in 19 countries that are currently reaching over 3.9 million people (almost all women in poor, rural communities), benefiting a total of over 21.8 million when family members are included.

Freedom from Hunger has made a rich and varied imprint on microfinance practice in India that includes early leadership in the development of the Financial Education program offered through Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), integrating an education methodology called “Learning Conversations” with CRS in eastern India, and designing a curriculum for young girls called “Learning Games for Girls” to help girls plan for and make choices on financial and health issues.

Johnson & Johnson – www.jnj.com

Johnson & Johnson is a global company that embraces research and science-bringing innovative ideas, products and services to advance the health and well-being of people. Employees of the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies work with partners in health care to touch the lives of over a billion people every day, throughout the world. The company has committed to meet the UN’s call to action to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)-particularly MDGs 4, 5, and 6, which address maternal and child health. The commitment includes, among other things, a concerted effort to provide access to skilled health workers so that women and children in hard-to-reach places can receive the care they need.