How Microfinance Can Offer a Multiple Return
3 September 2013 at 10:50 am
Good Return is working hard to live up to its name. Established by World Education Australia in 2009, Good Return specialises in providing microfinance and financial education to women in poverty in the Asia Pacific region. It’s a model the Westpac group has also embraced.
Connecting Australians to the working poor in their own backyard has appealed to Good Return supporters, whose small loans have helped over 5,000 women increase their livelihoods, improve their income, and create lasting benefits that flow to their families and communities.
The model sees donated loans recycle through the system – the same loan, once repaid, is re-invested in education and livelihood training programs, and then AusAid makes a contribution for each donation. That’s almost triple the impact.
A high return on investment is appealing in any market. Good Return’s Corporate Relations Manager, Sandra Carvajal says microfinance enables a multiplier effect – from the 5,000 loans Good Return has fully funded, they report a reach to over 25,000 family members who have benefitted from the livelihood development program.
“Microfinance is a viable option for people working their way out of poverty. A borrower in Nepal used the profits from raising and selling pigs to keep her five children in school.”
By taking this model to the Westpac Group, Good Return has doubled its impact again. Every time a Westpac Group employee makes a donated loan, Westpac matches the loan, enabling another woman to start her journey to financial sustainability. That equates to loans made to 677 women, with a reported benefit to 3,385 people.
“The support of our community partners allows us to extend our reach even further,” Carvajal explains.
Could a microfinance solution work anywhere? Carvajal is cautiously optimistic.
“Although some models for microfinance do exist within the Australian context, I think it is important to point out that it works quite differently overseas.”
Before launching, Good Return undertook a detailed ‘needs’ analysis in the Asia Pacific region, utilising the extensive experience of its microfinance staff specialists.
“We also have mutually supportive relationships with reputable lenders on the ground –we rely on their local engagement with the communities to manage the loans, and they rely on us for loan capital and training to staff and borrowers.”
But Carvajal also has experience of microfinance working in an Australian context. As the Microloan Administrator for the Asylum Seekers Centre, she has acquitted grants received to set up a small-scale microfinance scheme, enabling new migrants the opportunity of small business education and employment.
“It’s a dignified way to assist people establish a profession.”
Carvajal offers her top five tips for establishing a microfinance model:
1. Do your due diligence on the ground: an initial ‘needs’ analysis of the market and your borrowers, and ongoing audits to track your progress and systems.
2. Establish best practices by utilising staff who are skilled in microfinance.
3. Partner with reputable organisations that share a strong commitment to your social mission.
4. Design a model that appeals to your community of supporters e.g. a shared market, matching donations, connecting lenders to borrowers through digital communications.
5. Measure and report your impact. Good Return uses the Progress Out of Poverty Index.
To find out more about Westpac’s matching microfinance loans contact: Sarah Webster at 9114 8111.