2022 EUROPEAN MICROFINANCE AWARD
The 2022 European Microfinance Award "Financial Inclusion that Works for Women" highlights organisations working in financial inclusion that aim to understand and meet women’s challenges and aspirations in order to go beyond traditional gender outreach strategies.
Banco FIE - Bolivia
Banco FIE is a Bolivian bank established since 2010. It was an NGO before offering integral financial solutions to the MSMEs to contribute to the construction of a sustainable, inclusive and equitable society.
It serves 1,119,783 clients of which 54% are women - the population of Bolivia is 11.83 million- and employs 56% of women.
The Bolivian bank has integrated the gender focus in the overall product design to make its services of easy access to women and has developped an Inclusive Communication Guide establishing guidelines for a (no-sexist) communication which avoid gender stereotype.
It offers a wide range of financial and non-financial products and services for women clients such as a Family Life Insurance, which is linked to savings and a Cancer Insurance, which provides assistance and coverage in the event of a cancer diagnosis. Its Financial Education Programmes has a special focus on digital empowerment and a platform for women entrepreneurs that includes networking, financial advice, training spaces, economic and social empowerment, soft skills. Social projects such as Casa de las Mujeres, Segunda oportunidad and Tú decides providing technical and financial empowerment trainings.
Banco FIE shows a clear commitment to research into barriers facing women clients to understand its women clients' demographic, challenges and aspirations The latest studies include research to understand patterns of behaviour in the use of digital media by women micro entrepreneurs and a study on female participation in the agribusiness sector.
Banco FIE implements an innovative business management model called Marca Magenta promoting inclusive leadership, women's empowerment, violence prevention and access to equal opportunities. Since 2019, the bank adheres to the UN Women's Empowerment Principles (WEP's) and measures gender performance.
Bancamía - Colombia
Bancamía is an universal bank, part of Fundación Microfianzas BBVA in Colombia, serving low-income families and microentrepreneurs.
Women empowerment and gender equity are strategic axes for Bancamía which offers several services specifically designed with the needs of women:
- insurance products for women, including a cancer policy, Bolso Protegido, specialised medical assistance coverage for urban and rural women at very affordable prices (about 1 Euro per month). Mi Maternidad Protegida: entrepreneurial mothers do not have to worry about the payment of their microcredit and or receive economic support during the legal maternity leave (4 months). This product includes related health care services such as medical, psychological and pediatric telephone counseling, nutrition and legal advisers.
- Non-financial services: the gender prospective was incorporated into the online financial education programme and platform. In partnership with USAID, Bancamía is executing the EMPROPAZ Programme which has trained nearly 80,000 women, to strengthen their businesses.
The bank conducted several studies to understand women clients' characteristics, challenges and aspirations including the outsized impact of Covid-19 on women.
Bancamía shows a strong strategic commitment to gender equity within its organisation via the implementation of a Women Leadership Programme linked to Bancamía Carreer Plan to address chalenges of low women representation in the branch management positions, or an Equity and Inclusion Policy and an Equity Committee. In 2022, Bancamía held the Equality Week to sensitise employees about the existence of gender gaps (98% of total staff were trained and certified on management of unconscious gender biases).
Kashf Foundation - Pakistan
Kashf Foundation (Kashf) is a Pakistani foundation with a holistic approach designed to cater exclusively to self-employed women from economically marginalised households with low levels of education, constrained mobility, and limited access to healthcare.
Almost all women clients are located in rural areas (99.8%), and all are reported below the national poverty line (100%).
Kashf's approach is across four main areas:
- Financial Services: provision of multiple microfinance products differentiated by ticket size, reason for use, and specific sector requirements
- Capacity Building: basic financial education training using adult pedagogy are offered (e.g., budgeting, savings, debt management and financial transactions) to clients, including those with limited education. Business Accelerator sessions (e.g., product and income diversification, marketing, in-person visits to markets, market linkages, etc.) and vocational training are held to facilitate women's client linkages, boost economic returns and decision-making confidence
- Social Advocacy: interactive social theatre performances serve as a public awareness campaign to break stereotypes and change mindsets. Kashf has also produced and aired four television series covering various issues women face
- Safety Nets: family health insurance coverage (in addition to credit life insurance) for clients to enable equitable and timely access to high-quality health care facilities.
All products, services, policies, programmes and initiatives are evaluated and vouched by the Diversity and Inclusion Code before implementation to ensure alignment with clients' needs. The Foundation has a high-touch and doorstep approach where staff receives gender-sensitive training on how to approach clients.
Kashf has a comprehensive gender-responsive training programme with a "leadership pipeline" to promote women in senior roles, interest-free loans to increase women’s mobility (Women-on-Wheels Scooty programme), and extensive maternity support (parental leaves are available for both parents as well as branch-level day cares).
Monitoring of activities is regularly conducted through multiple internal and external research studies.