In the efforts to support the poor in ways that will have a sustained and meaningful difference in their lives, access to finance is a common theme. Millions of people in the developing world have no formal bank account and no way to access a bank loan to start a small business or purchase a home.
OPIC has partnered with different financial institutions to help reach the poorest communities in remote areas around the world and on March 11 it recognized one of those partners, Seattle-based Global Partnerships, with an Impact Award in the Access to Finance category.
Global Partnerships is a leading microfinance lender to poor communities in developing countries and OPIC has supported its work by providing financing to four of its past five funds, most recently the Social Investment Fund 5.0, which is supporting lending in poor communities in Latin America. One factor that distinguishes Global Partnerships from many other microfinance lenders is its investment philosophy – they believe that the poor need more than just money. In addition to providing financial loans, it offers other non-financial services such as education, training and healthcare, in partnership with other community groups. Global Partnerships has supported many loan recipients with financial training in things like budgeting, debt management and savings, and this support has enabled millions of people to start a small business, better maintain a farm or improve their homes with upgrades such as solar panels.
“It’s a logical approach that considers the individual needs of loan recipients rather than just seeing them as numbers on a balance sheet,” said USAID Administrator Raj Shah, who presented the award.
Because so many people have benefited from Global Partnerships’ support, it is challenging to do justice to the far reaching impact this nonprofit investor has had. But the eloquent comments CEO Rick Beckett offered when he accepted the award gave some sense for the breadth of its work.
“Let me speak to the many people who aren’t in the room tonight,” Beckett said. “To the micro-entrepreneur in Haiti who works 12 hours a day in her baking and catering business so she can provide for her children, and faithfully repays her tiny loan, the loan that makes that business possible. Or the small lot owner in Peru who, for the first time has access to training on how to improve his crop quality, and given that and access to fair trade coffee contracts, can increase his family income, and send his children to school, the school he was not able to attend himself. Or the woman member of a cooperative in Honduras who, with her husband starts a micro-pharmacy to add to their small store, to bring affordable access to essential medicines to a rural community that hasn’t ever had them.”
“When we talk about impact in the developing world that impact arises from the work and the spirit and the resilience and the diligence of people living in poverty.”