The word “finca” means farm or farmhouse in Spanish. In our early days, FINCA worked almost exclusively with farmers, so our founders – John Hatch and Rupert Scofield – decided to reverse-engineer the word FINCA into a name. They came up with the Foundation for International Community Assistance, Inc. Shortly thereafter John and Rupert realized that everyone (staff, clients, donors, etc.) only ever called us by our acronym. Our board decided that we didn’t need the long name, and by 1991 we had officially changed our name to FINCA International, Inc.
The FINCA tree is meant to indicate strength and security. It rises from a tiny seedling, symbolizing the solutions FINCA provides that empower low-income individuals and communities to grow and work their way up and out of poverty. Surrounding FINCA’s tree is a circle that represents our global organization. It signifies that we are connected to one another through our families, our communities and our planet.
FINCA Impact Finance’s network of community-based microfinance institutions and banks that span five continents and that offers responsible and impactful financial services to low-income clients. With more than 30 years of experience and a mostly local staff of over 10,000, FINCA Impact Finance delivers a double bottom line of social impact and financial sustainability.
With its Headquarters in Washington, DC and subsidiaries in Africa, Eurasia, Latin America and Caribbean, and the Middle East and South Asia and working in some of the most challenging markets in the world, FINCA Impact Finance’s geographic reach is among the widest of the leading responsible microfinance networks.
The majority owner of the FINCA Impact Finance network is FINCA International, a not-for-profit organization. FINCA International is joined by socially minded minority shareholders.
FINCA defines a social enterprise as a revenue-generating business that provides goods or services intended to achieve positive social, community, economic and/or environmental outcomes that align with FINCA’s charitable mission. According to the Social Enterprise Alliance, “a social enterprise is an organization that addresses a basic unmet need or solves a social or environmental problem through a market-driven approach.”
Microfinance is the provision of financial services to poor or low-income people on terms that they can afford. It is a means of promoting financial inclusion.
According to the World Bank, “Financial inclusion means that individuals and businesses have access to useful and affordable financial products and services that meet their needs—transactions, payments, savings, credit and insurance—delivered in a responsible and sustainable way.” FINCA is leading the way in expanding financial inclusion in underserved, low-income communities by providing access to credit, savings accounts, transfer services and insurance that allows people to be more productive in their small businesses and to have more control over their livelihoods and lives. According to the 2017 Global Findex, 1.7 billion people globally remain financially excluded.
Village Banking™ is a methodology for delivering credit that FINCA International pioneered. It entails groups of 10-20 low-income entrepreneurs who meet weekly, biweekly or monthly to provide themselves with self-employment loans as small as $50 or $100 to start or expand a business while enjoying camaraderie and mutual support for business development. Since low-income entrepreneurs don’t have the kind of collateral most commercial banks require, Village Banking™ group members guarantee each others’ loans. And they run a democratic organization, electing their own leaders, designing their own bylaws, keeping the books, managing funds, supervising loan repayments and enforcing penalties for non-compliance.
FINCA clients use their loans for a multitude of reasons. When poor people have access to financial services, like small loans, they can earn more, build their assets and cushion themselves against external shocks. For example, they can invest that money to make their labor far more productive. They might buy a used sewing machine to make dresses faster than sewing by hand. They might invest in a used refrigerator to keep the food they sell from going bad overnight. They might buy weaving thread in bulk at wholesale prices to increase their profit margin on every item. Or they may use their loans to pay for employees’ salaries.
FINCA charges interest in order to cover its costs and achieve operational sustainability. The interest charged on our loans is used to support our staff and technology in the field, allowing us to bring services to customers even in remote areas; and to enable us to source funding, so we can reach many more low-income people and remain a reliable resource for our customers. Before we lend to customers, we provide financial training that ensures our clients understand not only our rates, but what it will mean for them and their business to invest and repay a loan. Interest rates vary greatly around the world and reflect a variety of factors, such as local regulations, the type and size of the loan, prevailing inflation rates and local costs of borrowing.