Written by Johanna Ryan, Global Director of Impact, VisionFund International
In March this year, a study of the impact of recovery loans was conducted by 60 Decibels, a specialist impact measurement organisation, which involved interviews with 206 clients of VisionFund Kenya, 150 of whom were women. The results have just been published, and amongst a considerable number of results to be celebrated, two of the best highlights are these:
- 83% of those caring for children report that the recovery loan improved their ability to support those children, and
- 91% report an improved quality of life because of the recovery loan.
More than four out of five clients say they are better able to support their children. And nine out of ten say their life has improved because of VisionFund’s work. These are a truly stunning results for VisionFund Kenya because this validates what we all know to be the transformational power of mission-driven microfinance, i.e., we focus on transformation and not solely on profits.
There are too many highlights in the report to mention here, but two others particularly stand out for me:
- 49% report decreased levels of stress. Continuous worry about money and about the family’s welfare can eventually cause physical and psychological damage and is also linked to increased levels of violence and abuse, as well as to poor decision-making. By helping to reduce stress, the recovery lending programme provides much more than just financial credit; it also provides a means for families to mend broken relationships.
- 92% say they could not find an alternative to the recovery loan. VisionFund Kenya explains that this reflects the organisation’s quicker response to the crisis compared to other fnancial service providers when lockdowns and other restrictions were causing dreadful damage to clients’ livelihood activities. This agile response shows how firmly VisionFund Kenya is focused on clients, understanding their need for quick solutions to crisis situations.
We congratulate the whole team in VisionFund Kenya for finding creative ways to overcome the countless challenges of reaching clients when movements and interactions were so curtailed by lockdowns and other restrictions.
This survey is the first of three similar studies. In Malawi the research will focus on members of savings groups, and in Guatemala on individual microfinance clients, in both cases using initial and follow-up surveys. The results from the initial surveys will be available in the coming weeks.
These surveys are conducted by 60 Decibels (60 dB), an impact measurement company best known for its “Lean Data” approach, based on low-cost, quick turn-around of results by using phone-based surveys and proven survey modules. For this survey, 60 dB adapted some of their modules to create a survey that was made up of 40 questions to enable VisionFund Kenya to understand
- Household profile
- Access to financial services
- Client experiences
- Impact on households, including children in the household, and
- Impact on business.
The survey was funded by donations raised through World Vision US to VisionFund's Recovery Lending for Resilience programme which includes a package of support for clients whose livelihoods have suffered from lockdowns and other restrictions, and also health problems related to Covid-19. This support includes loans to individual clients and to savings groups; the digitisation of VisionFund’s services; as well as empowerment training; with all these interventions working in sync to enable farmers, entrepreneurs, and savings groups to restore their livelihoods. This is a three-year, $55 million programme that will fund 2.1 million recovery loans to more than 700,000 people, of whom 545,000 will be women. The programme also includes funding for impact evaluations to help VisionFund understand the effectiveness of the recovery lending response so that we can build on our successes and adapt where necessary to support more families more effectively.
The full survey results are available on the VisionFund site within World Vision’s Impact Portal and we recommend the full 45-slide report: it is hugely enjoyable to read.
The last word belongs to Philip Ochola, CEO of VisionFund Kenya: We must acknowledge the role of the field staff. These are their results and their achievements.