WASHINGTON, USA -- The Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), a member of the Inter-American Development Bank Group, will partner with Global Partnerships to promote innovative business models that offer high impact, accessible health services to as many as 75,000 low-income women and their families in Ecuador, Haiti, Honduras and Nicaragua. The project will receive non-reimbursable financing of more than $1 million over a three-year implementation period.
The project will develop and introduce integrated business models that use microfinance institutions (MFIs) or cooperatives to deliver health services as well as health education to low-income households, especially women, for a basic fee. Such services, tailored to meet the specific needs of the local population in each country, are expected to be fully sustainable during the implementation period, so that the clients of these MFIs or cooperatives will continue to access health services long after the project has finished.
“Connecting micro credit and savings with health prevention and educational services offers complementary solutions for two intertwined problems faced by millions of people living in poverty,” said Carrie McKellogg, Unit Chief of Basic Services of the MIF.
“We know that poor health or accidents can create serious economic shocks and have long-term effects of deepening poverty by diminishing an individual’s ability to be economically productive. This partnership will support leading edge solutions that are fully sustainable.”
Microfinance organizations can serve as a powerful and fully sustainable delivery channel to address these challenges, by leveraging an existing infrastructure to reach people living in poverty, often in remote areas. The comparative advantage of MFIs and cooperatives entering into the health education and service business includes: regular meeting with clients may provide a space where health and education services can be delivered, strong pre-existing relationships with clients, pre-existing infrastructure (branch offices) in close proximity to communities, and the ability to design creative financial products that help poor families overcome liquidity constraints in paying for health services, among others.
The project builds on experience by Global Partnerships, the international health NGO PATH, and the microfinance institution and MIF investee Pro-Mujer in Nicaragua and integrates lessons learned in the development of that health service model. The project incorporates a significant learning and knowledge dissemination component, so that other interested institutions may benefit from these pioneering models.