VisionFund Field Officer with Client

Breaking the Bias: VisionFund Staffing

Written by Kaitlin McGarvey, North America Fundraising Manager, VisionFund International 

Breaking the Bias: VisionFund Staffing

VisionFund is committed to breaking the bias against serving women at the bottom of the economic ladder, but this is only one piece of the puzzle. We also need to ensure we’re breaking the bias within our own workplace.

Women’s World Banking expresses concern that while women make up a majority of microfinance clients across the world, “there has been little focus on gender within lending institutions,”[1] with a declining number of women in leadership positions in many microfinance institutions.

A study analyzing the impact of gender diversity within the workforce of microfinance institutions in Africa found that “gender diversity enhances economic performance, especially in Africa.”[2]

Women’s World Banking notes, “especially when a majority of your clients are women, it makes sense for women’s voices to contribute to the next generation of products you will offer.”[3]

The average FAST (Finance Accelerating Savings Group Transformation) client is a 39 year-old woman who supports four children and lives about 40 minutes away from the nearest paved road. In order to best serve these clients, VisionFund needs to ensure our field officers resemble our client-base.  

VisionFund is intentionally hiring women field officers from the communities they serve. Field officers, who know, reflect, and understand FAST clients, are able to better support their clients through business and financial challenges.


Initially, there were a few hurdles in hiring local women field officers. The first is that, just like our FAST clients, many of our field officers have children who they cannot leave at home while they complete training. This may deter mothers from applying to be field officers. In order to eliminate this barrier, all FAST field officers are invited to bring their children to all trainings. VisionFund provides complimentary food and childcare to ensure women have minimal stressors while they focus on their professional development.

Another early challenge in hiring women field officers is connected to the rural nature of FAST and the difficulty of accessing rural communities. FAST field officers have to travel long distances to meet with their clients (the savings groups they serve).

Many of our women field officers have never driven a motorbike, which limits their ability to travel from one group to the next. VisionFund has responded to this challenge by including motorbike lessons as part of the FAST training experience. Additionally, local VisionFund offices have sourced motorbikes custom-built for women (smaller frames).

These simple solutions break the bias against hiring women field officers. VisionFund is proud to create a work environment that encourages women to take on leadership positions so that the organization can continue to grow and better serve our clients.   

Breaking the Bias: Call to Action

On this International Women’s Day, we invite you to join us as we work to #breakthebias by serving rural women clients and hiring rural woman loan officers. If you are interested in sponsoring a woman field officer, paying for her training, her motorbike, and the loan capital she needs to serve 15 savings groups, please reach out to your World Vision representative or Chris Shore at
Together we can break the bias.