7th European Microfinance Award 2016

MICROFINANCE AND ACCESS TO EDUCATIION

Now, as much as ever, education is by far the largest determinant of future economic status and self-reliance, and one of its benefits is the lower risk of unemployment. There are, however, some 75 million young people currently unemployed,while there remains a dearth of skilled entry-level workers. Therefore, enhancing skill development programmes that are relevant to labour market needs is also very important.

Yet despite largely good intentions, governments have struggled to develop effective responses and there is often insufficient public funding for education. For this reason, microfinance institutions can play a role in addressing issues of cost and access, reducing the number of children out of school and young adults without skills.

They can help expand access to education by enabling students to fund their studies, parents to afford their children’s educational expenditures, schools to offer quality services to children and young adults, and employers to have access to a marketplace of qualified and skilled employees.

Kashf Foundation - Pakistan

Winner

Kashf Foundation is a Pakistani NGO established in 1996. It provides microcredit, micro-savings, business development services and social advocacy interventions aimed at creating awareness about gender discrimination and social issues at the community level.

With 25 million out-of-school-children in Pakistan, an average of 37 students per teacher, 18% of teachers absent every day, 58% of schools without toilets, 64% without access to water, and 46% of students not able to read in Urdu by the end of primary school, Pakistan faces an “education quality” issue in public schools. As a result, private schools have become omnipresent and among them Low Cost Private Schools (LCPS) facing problems such as a lack of teachers training and access to finance.

Kashf Education Finance Programme offers credit facilities to LCPS and provides capacity building and trainings for teachers and school owners. It includes pedagogy training, the roles and responsibilities of a teacher, the effect of the teacher’s belief, values and attitude towards teaching practices, lesson planning, and class management training sessions. Schools owners are provided support in quality education, health, hygiene and safety issues as well as sustainable financial practices and human resource management.

Fundación Génesis Empresarial - Guatemala

Finalist

Fundación Génesis Empresarial is an NGO founded in 1988 that offers loans, training and consulting, microinsurance and fund transfer services to predominantly female clients and small business owners.

In 2014, Guatemala statistics show that 15-years olds attend on average only 5.5 years of schooling, and that among them indigenous people are disadvantaged with 50% being illiterate. The rural population falls behind in terms of enrolment rates with, in higher education, 87% of students from urban areas and 14% indigenous.

The Programa Crédito Educativo (CREE Programme) was launched in 2014. It offers customised education financing for higher education (university and vocational/technical education) to students from low-income families. It also finances equipment for starting a career after studies.
Fundación Génesis Empresarial also organises continuous career mentoring and orientation, financial education, academic counselling and monitoring and job fairs. It facilitates direct employment opportunities through strategic alliances with specialised institutions such as a nursing education centre, an English school and technical centres for short courses.

Opportunity Bank Uganda Limited - Uganda

Finalist

Opportunity Bank Uganda Ltd is a Non-Banking Financial Institution that acquired a license from Bank of Uganda to operate as a regular credit institution offering micro and SME loans and payments services as well as savings and insurance products.

The Universal Primary and Secondary Education Policy in Uganda had an important positive effect in raising school enrolment rates nationally. However education challenges persist, with very high dropout rates resulting in 25% completion rate for children in primary education, and a very low (24%) enrolment rate in secondary schools mainly due to households’ lack of financial resources.

The core products of Opportunity International Education Finance programme include, in particular, School Improvement Loans (SIL) to smooth cash flow and support improvements in the private school environment; School Fee Loans (SFL) targeting parents and families unable to pay the full cost of education; and a savings and insurance product, EduSave, ensuring children can continue study in of the event of their parents' death or illness.
Additional non-financial services are offered such as training for school owners receiving the SIL, the School Leadership Professional Development and School Clusters, a network of 5 to 15 schools that interact and learn from each other.