Across a network of 35 microfinance institutions, VisionFund now serves more than one million people.
PRESS RELEASE: 22 July 2014
Deep in the Sri Lankan countryside lives Annakili, a 48-year-old tea plucker. In May this year, she borrowed US$150 and purchased a pregnant goat and its kids, with the intention of selling the bucks for meat and keeping the does to breed. This transaction represents the beginning of a journey for her and her husband, who both dream of building a new home on a patch of land allocated to them by the plantation. It’s a chance to escape cramped living conditions and to earn enough money to put aside for their daughter and grandchildren. Annakili is one in a million microfinance clients on VisionFund’s current profile (read her full story below).
VisionFund delivers microfinance as part of World Vision; providing financial empowerment to people living in poor areas. Microfinance services, which include small loans, savings and insurance products, help both families and communities to develop economically. By enabling people to invest and grow small livelihoods, they can increase their incomes and help bring about long-lasting change in their communities.
Although VisionFund has reached many more people over its history, this is the first time it has served a million clients at the same time. And as a result, more than three million children enjoy a better quality of life because their families and communities are economically empowered.
Having a million clients at once is the second major milestone that VisionFund has achieved this year. Earlier this year, they also gave out a million loans in a 12-month period for the first time.
Notes to editors
- Clients often take out more than one loan in a year, so the amount of loans does not equate to the amount of clients. With a million current clients now being served, VisionFund is now giving out more than a million loans in each 12-month period.
- Across Africa and Asia, the average loan size is US$350 and 78% of clients are women.
- VisionFund has a current loan portfolio of over US$550 million across its network.
- With 1 million clients, the lives of over 3 million children are being improved.
- Watch two videos about our work in Sri Lanka: Two Hands and Cashew Queen
Annakili is one in a million
Seetha “Annakili” Lechchami, a 48-year-old tea plucker in Sri Lanka, represents the millionth client. She and her husband Ganapathi have lived for 25 years in a tiny pair of rooms in a line of identical homes on the plantation on which they both work. Like so many poor tea pickers, the couple had no choice but to bring up their children in squalid conditions and quiet desperation.
They tried to break out of the stranglehold of poverty but their efforts rebounded on them each time. An attempt to keep a cow failed because they couldn’t spare enough time from their long working day to care for it. Mrs Lechchami went to work in Saudi Arabia, but while she was there a landslide killed her youngest daughter; it was more than a year before she was allowed to go home to mourn her.
Mrs Lechchami first heard about VisionFund on an ordinary day at work plucking tea bush leaves. A friend said an organisation had started working in the area and had already made some loans to people like her. Mrs Lechchami had never heard of such a thing, and went to find out more.
She borrowed US$150 this last May and purchased a pregnant goat and its kids, with the intention of selling the males for meat and keeping the females to breed.
“All of us here in the estates pluck tea to earn a living,” Mrs Lechchami says. “We have no other source of income and no way of starting something new.”
Now, she has great plans. Once they have made enough money, she and her husband want to build a new home on a patch of land allocated to him by the plantation. They are continuing to support their daughter who recently married. And they plan to put money aside to help their grandchildren achieve a better life.