Freedom from Hunger’s Health and Microfinance program tested the feasibility and sustainability of adding health protection options for microfinance clients. Five microfinance institutions (MFIs) in Africa, Asia and Latin America added combinations of health education, health financing and linkages to healthcare providers and products at an average annual marginal cost to the MFIs of just $.29 per client family, only reducing average annual MFI profit from 26 percent to 24 percent. Research indicates clients have better health knowledge and behaviors, and health services are now more available to over 600,000 clients in participating MFIs (a total of approximately 3.5 million people including family members).
In praise of Freedom from Hunger’s initiative, Brian Greenberg and Danielle Heiberg of InterAction pointed out, “Our technical review committee…concluded that the strength and accomplishment of [Freedom from Hunger’s] program merited recognition in the areas of access to financial services, gender integration/
With millions affected by today’s food, fuel and financial crises, and development programs feeling the constraints of a scarce resource environment, identifying and learning from “what works” is crucial. That concern led InterAction to launch its BPI initiative with the goal to highlight successful and promising interventions to improve the lives of the millions of people suffering from poverty and hunger.
The five winning organizations include Freedom from Hunger, ADRA International, Africare, Heifer International and Winrock International, showcasing the commitment to improving the efficiency and impact of agriculture, food security and rural community economic development programs in the developing world. All submissions were rigorously reviewed by a selection committee of experts and evaluated according to the following criteria: evidence of effectiveness/
During the award lunch on December 14 in Washington, D.C., winners presented their best practice approaches. Attending on behalf of Freedom from Hunger, Marcia Metcalfe, Director, Microfinance and Health Protection, noted that it was “interesting to find ourselves among the organizations that were recognized for innovations like integrated dairy production, the establishment of fruit-bearing orchards in Ghana, and soybean marketing and value-chain development in Zimbabwe. It was very good to have our work recognized and shared within a forum of practitioners who clearly understand the need for multiple solutions to address food security.”
Samuel Worthington, President and CEO of InterAction, congratulated Freedom from Hunger and indicated that the organization has met the highest standards for rigor and potential for scale that the NGO community currently has available for assessing promising innovations and best practices.
A 12-minute video called “Healthy Microfinance:
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Freedom from Hunger is a nonprofit international development organization that brings innovative and sustainable self-help solutions to the fight against chronic hunger and poverty. Our staff works with 112 local partner organizations in 17 countries to deliver microfinance, education and health protection services to more than 2.4 million women and families in Africa, Asia and Latin America.