Press release: VisionFund International’s Women’s Empowerment Fund Commits 2019 Funding to Armenia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Uganda and Vietnam
Ahead of International Women’s Day on 8 March, VisionFund International (VisionFund), the microfinance arm of children’s charity World Vision, has pledged over $1.2 million in funding to support over 32,000 women in 2019 in Armenia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Uganda, and Vietnam from its Women’s Empowerment Fund, a fund established to empower women’s ability to improve their livelihoods and benefit their children. The fund complements VisionFund’s existing microfinance programmes in the five countries by providing extra resources for business training and loans.
Thin Thin Mar from Myanmar was a beneficiary of the Women’s Empowerment Fund in 2017 and 2018. She lives with her husband, their two children and three nieces and nephews. She and her husband have land where they grow flowers. Struggling to make enough money to look after her family, Thin Thin took out a loan of US$400 that she used to purchase fertiliser, insecticide and flower seedlings which enabled her flower business to bloom and her family’s lives to dramatically improve. Buoyed by her success, Thin Thin plans to build a new house that will provide better shelter, to drill a well for clean water and to purchase a generator to provide electricity.
Johanna Ryan, Global Director of Impact, VisionFund International explained, “In VisionFund’s fifteenth anniversary year, we look back over the years and celebrate the achievements of women like Thin Thin who have worked hard to grow their business and raise their family’s living standards. I was struck most recently in Myanmar by the benefits to both women and children gained by loans provided through the Women’s Empowerment Fund. Women spoke of their increased confidence, and the pride they took in being able to afford their children’s education, not just high school but even university education.
“With support from the Women’s Empowerment Fund we are committed to bringing this kind of economic development to many vulnerable women and their children, to helping them develop a greater understanding of how to use financial services to increase their incomes and resilience, and to ensure they have access to products and services specifically developed to fulfil their needs.”
With funding from the Women’s Empowerment Fund, VisionFund will provide services to women who are based in the poorest communities, in isolated rural areas, near to the border or in armed conflict areas and in villages with severe climatic conditions where temperatures fall as low as -33ᴏC in Winter and as high as +45ᴏC in Summer. Loans will be made to these women to help them to increase their income capacity to improve their family’s health, housing conditions, and nutrition and to make the best choices for their families.
VisionFund will also seek to deliver services to selected groups of Armenian women through smartphones equipped with training materials. This will help the women to learn about managing their finances and save them time and expense associated with travelling in to branches for savings and repayments.
Funding from the Women’s Empowerment Fund will help VisionFund to support rural women with basic business education and the provision of loans and savings products.
Similar to the focus in Myanmar, VisionFund will provide basic business education, loans and savings products. Women targeted by the Women’s Empowerment Fund in Sri Lanka will be rural women who are often war affected women, disabled or widowed.
In Uganda, the Women’s Empowerment Fund will enable VisionFund Uganda to bring financial inclusion to refugee women living in camps by providing them with financial literacy training and providing small loans through savings groups run by World Vision.
The Women’s Empowerment Fund was launched in November 2016 as a bold initiative to contribute to VisionFund International’s target of empowering two million women and impacting six million children annually by 2021. The Fund aims to build the resilience of women and their families, improve gender equity and support the development of women’s livelihoods by expanding financial access for women and delivering quality credit, savings and insurance products developed by VisionFund with women – especially mothers – in mind.
Photo courtesy of VisionFund.
Source: Press release