Around the world, millions of individuals and families face the crushing consequences of poverty. Your super is invested in organisations such as VisionFund, which helps women in rural areas of developing countries.
VisionFund is helping women thrive
VisionFund has an intentional focus on investing long term in the lives of children. They focus on investing in families and women entrepreneurs because they reinvest their profits into improving the life of their family. In the words of Kany from Tamangando,
“It is good to invest in women because they care about the family, good education, they work hard and do the best they can to better their conditions.”
Women living in rural areas of developing countries face many factors that impact their ability to generate income to support themselves and their families. Unfinished education, early marriage and motherhood, the demands of family and community support roles disproportionately disadvantage women in rural communities.
Women typically have very limited access to financial services and products. Cultural attitudes and traditional systems of land inheritance, which favour male ownership, leave women without assets to pledge for bank loans and challenges for women who do not have a registered ID.
Investing into women in rural areas tends to positively impact children and whole communities. This is because women who can generate an income, they are more likely to spend it the needs of their family. VisionFund estimates that 3 million children have been impacted by loans given to women.
Read more below for inspiring stories of women who’ve been impacted through your super as well as VisionFund’s vision for woman.
Born saleswoman and community leader – Kany’s story
• Aged 43
• Mother of seven
• Passionate business owner
• President of a women’s saving group
• Prominent community leader in her village
Despite having no formal education, Kany dreamed of being a successful saleswoman from a young age. As a child she would save her money to purchase clothing which she would then sell in her community for profit. As she grew, Kany continued to seek items to sell.
After she married and started a family, she then shifted from being a merchant to farming. Due to the desert climate of the region, Kany, like many other local farmers, struggled to maximize her crop production. Harvesting enough to feed her family would leave minimal produce left to sell. One season, World Vision was working in Kany’s village, helping local farmers harvest larger quantities and better-quality vegetables. Kany soon participated with World Vision and formed a savings group with other women in the community to be trained by World Vision in agriculture and financial management.
In 2018, World Vision introduced the savings group to VisionFund. The first loan the savings group received from VisionFund was used to purchase sheep to breed and sell. The combination of training from World Vision and the loans from VisionFund has remarkably improved the lives of these women and their families.
Waitress turned restaurant owner – Laura’s story
• From Mexico
• Restaurant owner
Laura began her career working as a waitress in Mexico at age 19, the same year she gave birth to her only child.
“Looking at my baby girl changed my life, I wanted a different future for her.” Laura fell in love with the role as she loved talking to customers, having fun and found she received good tips just by being herself; lively, kind and with a big smile.
Over the years, Laura worked in Chinese, Italian, Spanish and Mexican restaurants. Working these jobs gave her the opportunity to taste different cultures as well as closely analyse the advantages and disadvantages of each business. At age 28, Laura met her business partner. She soon opened her restaraunt Pozole after she realised that “I already knew which ingredients spoiled faster, which type of food requires more preparation time so I chose Pozole, and well, it’s my favourite too.”
With the financial help of VisionFund, Laura has been able to harness her ambition and remarkable work ethic to achieve great success in a field she is passionate about. In 2019, Laura opened the second branch of the Pozole Restaurante, employing 13 staff across two locations. She has a vision to launch a chain of restaurants in the years to come.
Provision through chickens and eggs – Mukeshimana’s story
• From Rwanda
• Chicken farmer
Before receiving a microloan from VisionFund Rwanda and starting her business, Mukeshimana experienced devastating poverty being unable to feed her family and take care of their basic needs. With the help of Vision Fund, Mekeshimana was able to help turn her family’s life around. She says, “I used the VisionFund loan to buy 150 chicks…I was lucky that only two chicks died, the other 148 are still alive. I collect around 120 eggs per day and sell them in the market.”
The money from selling eggs is used to repay her loan, pay school fees, purchase food for the family and other items around the home and business. The training and financial investment of VisionFund, give women like Mukeshimana income, hope and a confidence in their ability to provide for their families.
VisionFund Rwanda is one of the country’s biggest microfinance organisations. Their work in rural and vulnerable communities is focused on helping people to improve their lives through small achievable steps.
VisionFund is World Vision’s microfinance services provider and is the world’s largest Christian microfinance network. One of its focus areas is empowering rural and women entrepreneurs with small loans and other financial services, giving them the support they need to grow their small businesses and provide for their families.
“Our Christian faith leads us to believe every person is created in God’s image and deserves life in all its fullness. Because inadequate livelihoods impede the well-being of families—and the children that live within them—our faith requires us to respond.”
VisionFund uses a Group Lending Methodology. Rather than providing loans to individuals, VisionFund distributes a loan to a community group of friends and neighbours who know and trust each other. Individuals can borrow what they need for the group loan without collateral and the personal relationships in the group ensure that everyone is supported and accountable as they pursue their small business endeavours.
With almost two decades of work in the field, VisionFund has distributed more than AUD$744 million worth of loans to over 1.1 million clients, changing the lives of individuals, families and communities. Whether buying items at the market for resale or growing vegetables, raising livestock or sewing school uniforms, microloans and other financial services help hardworking people to improve their livelihood with dignity.