Beyond Microfinance


Access to capital for the poor is absolutely critical if we want to eradicate poverty. It’s why at Whole Planet Foundation, this is what we focus on – raising funds to distribute to microfinance institutions (MFIs) who lend the money out to the poor. Unfortunately, the poorest countries also tend lack proper infrastructure, access to public health servants and even plans to protect its citizens from natural disasters. We’ve seen the heart-breaking results of this in Haiti, who has suffered seriously in the past years from earthquakes and hurricanes. Another unfortunate truth is that, because of these exterior influences/factors access to capital isn’t the only thing the poor need.

What if your business is running perfectly, you’re saving money and about to send you children to school, but a flood hits and washes all your product away? Or a family member becomes sick and you need to use to your savings to travel 100 miles to receive medical attention? It’s the unavoidable that can stop any progress the poor make.

This is why it is so great that some of our partners offer services beyond microfinance.

Pro Mujer, a partner in Latin America, offers high-quality, low-cost primary health care in addition to its microfinance services and business and empowerment training. You might remember from the podcast that I posted a little while back. Learn more.

“Pro Mujer believes that health is women’s most precious asset, a key to their wellbeing and success in the home, the workplace, and their community. Health care is particularly crucial for entrepreneurs because an illness can deplete savings and other assets, keep them away from their business, and cause other disruptions that can threaten a business.”

Fonkoze, our partner in Haiti, is also very innovative in their offerings. They have many different programs to help them better serve the poor in their region, but, what might be the most important, at least recently, is their disaster relief programs. Learn more.

“However, our experience has taught us that, while special programs are effective, our clients deserve a permanent solution to help them better protect the assets they work so hard to build. Therefore, in 2009, Fonkoze and its local insurance partner, AIC, began developing the details of a new catastrophic insurance product that would cover the personal and business assets of Fonkoze clients in the case of natural disaster.”

We also partner with BRAC, in several regions around the world. BRAC has an extensive network and many services, but one that I particularly like is their education programs. Watch the video below to learn more.

“To date, nearly 5 million children, mostly girls, have graduated from BRAC schools and an overwhelming majority of them have gone into the public school system, performing, on average, better than their mainstream peers.”

It’s these services and programs that we take for granted, I think especially here in the US, but it’s these services and programs that can make a tremendous difference in the lives of the poor. I think as long as we have continue down this path, we can slowly, but surely, eradicate poverty and empower the poorest of the poor, providing them with ways to reach the quality of life that they all deserve.

Note: Each of these MFIs do more than I have the space to talk about, and we have many more partners that all have their own unique offerings. I encourage you to explore them yourselves by visiting our implementing partners page.

What programs do you think are most important when serving the poor?