VisionFund was established in 2003 to develop and build on the extensive experience of World Vision in providing microfinance services to vulnerable people around the world. We understand poverty in its many forms and the challenges of access to finance, women’s empowerment, and financial and technological literacy. Although we focus on eradicating economic poverty, we strive to empower our clients to use their own abilities and resources for permanent, transformational change in many areas of their lives.
Global Poverty Landscape
736 million people in the world today are living under the poverty line with an income of just $1.90 per day. Over half of these are children under 18 years old, almost all living in developing countries. The impact extreme poverty can have on children is devastating. Deprivation in nutrition, education, healthcare, sanitation, shelter, and many other human rights can have a lifetime effect in development and well-being, making it much harder to break the cycle of poverty.
We know there’s a path out of poverty, and the need to create impact in the fight against poverty is greater than ever before. The World Bank tells us that there are two measures that VisionFund can take today to sustainably reduce poverty by 2030: Invest in the human capital of people, especially those who are unable to benefit from basic services due to circumstances beyond their control; and insure poor and vulnerable people against the shocks that can push them deeper into poverty—things such as severe weather, pandemics, food price variability, and economic crises. VisionFund is targeting adults with financial inclusion products to ensure their children, and many generations to come, have a living income and are resilient to uncontrollable shocks.
Why Financial Inclusion?
VisionFund provides the economic impact engine to enable the world’s poorest communities to turn business ideas and opportunities into successful enterprises. Using innovative tools such as microcredit, microinsurance and microsavings, we are working to include the world’s most vulnerable in economic opportunities that can change lives for the better. ‘Micro’ refers to the relatively small sums needed to provide start-up capital for a business or funding for growth – just a few hundred dollars can begin a household’s journey towards a lifetime out of poverty. Microfinance providers like VisionFund work with communities who don’t have access to mainstream financial services and help to empower them to their own path of sustainable income, growth and well-being.
Our Focus on Rural Agriculture
There are more than 570 million farms around the world, with more than two billion people dependent on them for their livelihoods. Of these, more than 70% of farmers are women, whilst 90% are run and reliant on the help of their families and friends.
We understand that farmers are the key to ensuring their families and communities have enough food, whilst improving their rural livelihoods and protecting the natural environment. When farmers can mitigate their own risks and manage their own shocks, then the impact of any environmental, economic or political change is severely reduced. This is our aim; to help farmers become independent and economically secure, so they can look after their families and invest in their community.
VisionFund fosters an empowered Christian world view focused on human dignity and work ethic, and supports communities to become creative, productive, caring and self-reliant. We help improve livelihoods and resilience by lending farmers the funds to invest in their businesses so they can increase their yields, incomes and savings. Beyond microloans, we offer savings and insurance, technical expertise to produce quality products and knowledge of markets to find buyers, so that farmers follow a value chain that improves productivity and processes. We promote the management of natural resources as a way to both increase production and to mitigate the risk and reduce the impact of droughts and floods. Preparing for an event before it happens is essential to ensure farming productivity year-round.
We know that when women have access to loan capital, they’re more likely to spend their income to care for their family. This means that when a woman invests that loan capital in developing her own small business, her family benefits from nutritious food on the table, school fees paid on time, and other household needs met. Even her community benefits from increased economic activity. Small businesses allow women to balance family needs with their micro-enterprises, that fit their capacity and available time. The transformative nature of women’s economic empowerment can help close the gender gap and allow generations of women and their children to thrive.
For remote farmers, both their occupation and their location work against them when it comes to securing loans to expand their businesses. Banks rarely have branches in rural communities, and even when they do, they’re reluctant to lend to poor farmers.
There is a solution for our clients—and it fits in the palm of their hand. Even though rural farmers don’t always have access to a bank, two-thirds of them do own mobile phones, providing a way for financial services to include rural poor households. VisionFund is working to provide the processes, platforms and products to ensure that technology is at the forefront of our financial inclusion practice, from using tablets to capture data to bringing mobile money to economically disempowered communities.