Around the world, three billion people survive on less than $2.50 per day. They live without the financial tools and basic services that enable equal progress toward better lives. Without the income to sustain themselves or the ability to access life-improving products, their quality of life remains poor. FINCA International tackles this challenge through market-based solutions, including microfinance and social enterprise.
Individuals living in some of the world’s most challenging economies have long been unbanked. In fact, 1.7 billion people globally do not have access to formal financial services; 56 percent of them are women. More than 200 million micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in emerging economies lack adequate financing to thrive and grow. Without access to financial services, the world’s poor struggle to start or expand a business, save for a child’s education, pay for health care, plan for the future or cope with unexpected emergencies.
Financial inclusion is a key enabler to reducing poverty and increasing opportunity. Since 1984, FINCA has enabled bottom-up growth in markets that others have found too difficult to reach or uneconomical to serve. We do so by offering access to small loans, savings accounts and other financial services that low-income people otherwise would not have. FINCA serves its microfinance clients through a combination of brick-and-mortar branches, banking agents and digital financial service tools. This hybrid business model allows FINCA to maintain personal relationships and trust with clients while reaching deeper into the bottom of the economic pyramid.
Off-grid families throughout sub-Saharan Africa burn kerosene, wood and charcoal to light their homes and prepare food. These traditional fuels are hazardous and unhealthy. They are a major cause of house fires and burns, and together with cooking fires, generate vast amounts of indoor air pollution. Exposure to this toxic smoke causes 2.5 million pre-mature deaths worldwide. Without electricity, living in darkness increases vulnerability to disease-carrying pests and other intruders. Women and girls—the primary agents of domestic activities—are disproportionately affected.
FINCA International is addressing the challenges associated with off-grid living through BrightLife, a social enterprise in Uganda. BrightLife distributes and finances solar home systems, improved cookstoves and other life-enhancing products for low-income, off-grid customers, especially women. By offering pay-as-you-go financing, BrightLife pairs access to finance with access to energy to help customers move up the financial inclusion and energy ladders. This translates into greater resilience and opportunity for off-grid families.
For much of the world’s population, there remains inadequate access to modern energy, clean water, improved sanitation, quality education and more.
Seeing the success of microfinance, a new wave of social enterprises are adopting market-based solutions to address these issues. However, early-stage social enterprises face common challenges to growth and reaching their full impact potential. These include a lack of funding to grow their ideas and operational hurdles to deliver essential service products in the world’s most challenging developing markets.
At FINCA International, our vision is to build a global network of sustainable and scalable social enterprises that improve lives worldwide. That’s why we launched FINCA Ventures, an initiative providing investment capital and technical assistance to early-stage social enterprises. As a pioneer in microfinance, FINCA International is uniquely positioned to help social enterprises grow faster and smarter, and reach the world’s poor more effectively and responsibly. Through FINCA Ventures, we are enabling access to basic service products by supporting innovative solutions in energy, water and sanitation, education, health, agriculture and financial technology (fintech).