Yangon, London – 11 January 2016 – The Livelihoods and Food Security Trust Fund (LIFT) has awarded World Vision Myanmar, working in close partnership with World Vision Australia and its microfinance partner VisionFund Myanmar, a grant of $4.5 million to help approximately 100,000 people gain improved access to financial services. In alignment with LIFT’s objectives, the grant will enable VisionFund Myanmar to increase its efforts to provide credit and savings products for those primarily engaged in agricultural and off-farm small businesses in the states of Kachin, Shan, Kayah and Kayin, comprising a major part of Myanmar’s uplands region.
The uplands region is underserved by both formal and informal financial services. Only around 20 percent of households have access to formal services, approximately 30 percent have access to informal services, and the majority (over 50 percent) of the population are excluded from both formal and informal financial services.
The LIFT Financial Inclusion grant is part of a wider World Vision livelihood programme which aims to increase the income of rural households, increase the resilience of rural households and communities to shocks, stresses and adverse trends, as well as improving the nutrition of rural women, men and children. The partners will pay special attention to the encouragement of women in livelihood activities with over 80% of clients anticipated to be women.
Andrew Kirkwood, LIFT’s Fund Director, commented, “Increased access to affordable credit and sustainable financial services will accelerate Myanmar’s rural economic transformation. We have allocated this grant since World Vision Myanmar has been active since 1998 and VisionFund Myanmar has well-established microfinance operations serving rural communities. There are significant synergies between the partners in our financial inclusion programme in terms of local knowledge and in bringing financial services to the rural poor.”
VisionFund Myanmar, has grown its total portfolio to over US$8 million with nearly 60,000 active borrowers, 87 percent of whom are women. It is estimated that over 160,000 children have been positively impacted as a result of the small loans taken out by their parents to grow businesses and supplement the family income.
Scott Brown, President and CEO of VisionFund International explains, “While Myanmar is experiencing significant changes, more than 32 percent of the population still live below the poverty line and the country suffers from a lack of capital to fund economic development. This generous grant will enable us to bring greater financial inclusion to some of the poorest areas to provide brighter futures for the present and future generations.”