Sophia sits in her shop
The Most Missing Middle Project

In Myanmar and Ghana, the Most Missing Middle project is delivering innovative finance for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). VisionFund is proud to deliver the project in partnership with the Australian Government (DFAT’s innovationXchange and Aid4Trade), World Vision Australia, and also supported by the Shapansky Foundation. 

Shapansky Foundation     Australian Aid     Innovation Exchange

Since 2018, the Most Missing Middle (MMM) project has specifically offered Small and Growing Business (SGB) loans, business coaching and in some cases, targeted technical support in Ghana and Myanmar. To address the credit market failure for SGBs, the MMM project is offering larger scale loans (USD $3,000 and above), which has so for assisted 1,398 clients to create larger-scale businesses with long-reaching livelihoods impacts in their communities.

A woman stands in her embroidery factory

The Most Missing Middle Project

The MMM project is a three-year MSME program which aims to deliver increased growth potential through the development, identification and testing of an optimum business model that is effective, sustainable, scalable and inclusive.

 

In 2020, VisionFund completed the second year of the program with a disbursal of over US$6 million, 56% of which has been disbursed to female clients. The second year of the program demonstrated the importance of access to multiple MSME loan cycles, particularly for women-led MSMEs in Myanmar, who reported almost double the annual turnover (average $US 369,269) compared to MSMEs on their first loan cycle (average US $197,920). Gender inclusion is a cornerstone of the MMM project, and removing barriers to access for women clients is one of the ongoing objectives of the program, through improved MSME targeting, gender-sensitive training, representation on the Credit Committee and in our ongoing work to ensure VisionFund loan officers are gender-balanced in both contexts.

Target disbursement graphic
Disbursements made over the project lifecycle to March 2020
Business owner and her family outside the shop

The Most Missing Middle Project

One of the primary intentions of the MMM project is to validate that MSME loans and business coaching can contribute to the creation and sustained employment of low income and unskilled employees within their communities.

In Year 2 of the project, VisionFund conservatively estimated 8,469 jobs had been created from its supported MSMEs. In Myanmar, MSME clients employed on average 6.6 employees according to the sampled clients, whereas in Ghana the average reported number of employees sustained was 3.2 employees. In both countries, baseline data shows that a large percentage of MSME clients claim to pay their full-time employees above the respective national minimum wage. When MSMEs receive the credit they need to develop their businesses, the benefits reach far beyond the main client and into the community, where employees on a heathy wage are also able to support life in all its fullness for their children, their families and their communities.

MMM Project Plan
The Most Missing Middle Project plan has just concluded its second year. 

 

Women working at a brush factory

The Most Missing Middle Project

In year 3 of the MMM project, VisionFund is looking forward to a range of new and revised activities.

Key activities in the coming year will involve further upgrading and gender lens strategies including gender-awareness in training materials, developing strategic partnerships for client acquisition that target women, and exploring peer learning support models (including digital tools/apps). Business coaching materials will also be revised to include a stronger focus on business continuity and business resilience to shocks and stresses in coping with the ongoing COVID-19 impact. VisionFund is excited to support even more SGBs and their employees over the coming year, and into the future.

The Most Missing Middle