Launch of Strong Women Impact Fund for Transformation (SWIFT)
Written by Edgar S. Martinez, President and International CEO at VisionFund International
This International Women’s Day, we know that women and girls are overrepresented among the poor in many regions of the world, with nearly 1 billion unbanked women globally.
And, life continues to be a struggle for the majority (80%) of people living below the international poverty line who reside in rural areas, even though the rural population accounts for less than half of the global population.
Data proves that women’s economic empowerment boosts productivity, increases economic diversification and income equality in addition to other positive development outcomes. Arguably the biggest missed market opportunity is that of women.
Women represent an enormous global opportunity, but they still face persistent challenges—including a roughly $300 billion shortfall in access to credit—preventing them from reaching their full potential, which has a downstream effect on their children.
VisionFund seeks to end extreme poverty by intentionally focusing our financial services to meet the needs of rural women: the most economically vulnerable population.
VisionFund’s new Strong Women Impact Fund for Transformation (SWIFT), is a $100 million fund dedicated to supporting innovative products designed to serve rural women clients at the bottom of the economic ladder. We work with them as they build their economic resilience, improve household well-being, and break the intergenerational cycle of poverty.
I was recently in Uganda, where I met with clients like Mpririrwe Prossy (45 years) who has used her VisionFund loans to build businesses and provide for her five children. Prossy started by selling second-hand clothes, and now (after six loan cycles) produces organic fertilizer for farmers, grows mushrooms, makes soap, manages livestock, and harvests trees. She also employs youth in her community who drive her goods to markets.
When a woman has access to capital, she is able to invest in herself, which, in turn, benefits her entire family and her broader community. In Prossy’s case she’s ensuring her children go to school, and she’s benefiting her community by hiring youth, selling soap for improved hygiene, and providing farmers in her community with an opportunity to use organic fertilizer, which increases the price and profit from their produce.
VisionFund aims to learn from women like Prossy in order to develop products that meet the specific needs of women, and help more women thrive into positions of business leadership and opportunity.
If you are curious to learn more about SWIFT, please reach out to VisionFund’s Investment Team at email@example.com.
 Asli Demirgüç-Kunt, et al. The Global Findex Database: Measuring Financial Inclusion and the Fintech Revolution.
World Bank Group, 2017.
 Pursuing Women's Economic Empowerment. International Monetary Fund, 2018.
 Women-Owned SMEs: A Business Opportunity for Financial Institutions. International Finance Corporation , 2014.