Forty Years and Counting

FINCA Global CEO Andree Simon standing in front of drawings depicting innovations at FINCA.

In 1984, FINCA’s founders submitted the paperwork to incorporate the organization. In 1985, FINCA made its first loan. Beginning in 2024, we’ll celebrate 40 years of incredible impact on the world’s poor—and double down on our mission to end poverty throughout the world.

We recently sat down with FINCA’s Global CEO, Andrée Simon. She gave us her take on FINCA’s future.

FINCA News: What are FINCA’s biggest “wins” from its first forty years?

Andrée: At the big picture level, we proved that people – especially women – living on the margins of society in some of the world’s poorest countries can build better lives for themselves and their families when given the economic opportunity. We’ve provided financial services to millions of people and touched tens of millions of lives.

Zooming in, I could tell you countless stories about the lives we’ve touched. Women like Amina Nanyobi in Uganda, whose small business selling fruits and vegetables wasn’t generating income to feed her family and send them to school. With her first FINCA loan, Aminah started a more lucrative milk business Now her children attend school. And her family eats regular meals. That’s what makes me motivated to work hard every day. When we strengthen FINCA, we can provide opportunities for more people like Amina. 

FINCA News: Why is focusing on women so important?

Andrée: There are many reasons, but here are the top two. First, the statistics show that women who run successful small businesses are more likely to use the profits to invest in their communities, whether that’s through children’s education or creating jobs. Second, women tend to be underserved by financial services. They don’t have the same opportunities to fully participate in the economy and society, and it’s FINCA’s responsibility to change that.

Andree Simon talks with a FINCA client in Guatemala.
Andrée talks with a client about her loan, her business, and her family.

FINCA News: What’s the biggest disappointment from the last forty years?

Andrée: That we haven’t eradicated global poverty. We have realized that we need more than microfinance to do so—that we have to tackle the problem more broadly. It’s time for FINCA to embrace a more holistic approach that builds our customers’ resilience to challenges like climate threats, political instability and health crises so they can stay out of poverty.

FINCA News: What does that new approach look like?

Andrée: We must maintain the same quality of service and with the same level of personal connection. But we can do it with the speed and cost that was unimaginable just a few short years ago. In some countries, we can approve a loan in under a minute. This helps us scale up our services and greatly increase the number of people we can serve.

We also need to make sure that the products and services we deliver match people’s real needs — products and services that go well beyond microfinance. That means continuing to learn about and listen to the evolving hopes and dreams of our customers.

I’m convinced that as FINCA enters its 40th year, there has never been more potential for the kind of “revolution” that the founders of FINCA called on us to lead. With the technology we have today, we have the opportunity — and the moral obligation — to ensure the next forty years are even more impactful than the first forty.  

FINCA News: What message do you have for FINCA’s donors and supporters?

Andrée: Trust but verify. I know that the people who fund FINCA’s work have lots of philanthropic choices, and I want them to hold us to high standards.

That’s why I’m super proud that we spend so much time and energy doing research to measure our impact. And that we go the next step and make that information publicly available.

I want people to visit our SDG (Sustainable Development Goal) dashboard so that they can see our progress for themselves and make an informed decision about whether FINCA continues to be a good investment. I have faith that people who learn more about the growing, real-world impact of our services and initiatives will increase their support for our life-changing work.