Microfinance has helped more than 200 million women globally climb out of poverty by offering access to credit and saving services to build small businesses. But in very rural areas of the world, financial services are not enough.
Even when women are starting to have success in their businesses to support their family, a health challenge such as the illness of a child or death of a family member can plunge them further into poverty. Integrated microfinance programs that couple financial services with health education, health services or other development tools can mitigate health risks to a microcredit client and her family.
Johnson & Johnson partners with Freedom From Hunger and Microcredit Summit to help women address the root causes of their poverty, achieve food security, and access health care services for their families.
Nandini in Orissa, India, had a chance to join a self-help group that gave her access to capital with terms that she could manage as well as financial literacy training and access to health education and services through Freedom from Hunger’s microfinance partner, Gram-Utthan.
More importantly, she found her calling to become a Village Health Volunteer. Every month, Nandini holds two health education forums (on topics such as diarrhea prevention and treatment, women’s health and the feeding of young children) for the self-help groups in her rural village.
Along with all the value that Nandini adds, her neighbors now have access to savings and loan products through Gram-Utthan to help them deal with unexpected medical costs, which can cripple a family financially or cause them to delay seeking treatment.
Working in partnership with local microcredit organizations, Village Health Volunteers like Nandini are having a significant impact in rural areas, where access to medical care is limited.