Mrs Mao Rin (41) has just received a certificate for completing a Good Return Savings course which will help her manage her loan.
After dropping out of primary school in year 5, Rin says that she can “read and write only a little.” Now a mother of three, two of her children have had similar educational experiences. Her eldest child, now 22, was forced to drop out of school in grade 7 after an illness affected his hearing, and her second child dropped out to work in a garment factory so that she could help earn money for the family.
Rin and her husband have always relied on their rice crop and their small well-boring business for income. However, the rice crop hasn’t always been successful, and the family has struggled to afford basic living costs let alone the the regular, costly repairs of drilling equipment for their well-boring business.
Things changed when Rin was granted a loan with Good Return. The funds from the loan meant that Rin and her husband were able to purchase fertiliser for their rice crop, which resulted in a higher yield than ever before! They were also able to afford the cost of fuel and maintenance for their well-boring equipment, which now earns the family up to $220 AUD per well bored.
Thanks to the Savings course Rin completed after taking out the loan, she understands the differences between income and expenses, and realises the importance of saving money for things she may need in the future, and for emergencies. Rin’s third child, now 13, will now be able to continue her studies due to the family’s extra income and improved financial stability.
Support women like Mao Rin this Christmas
Did you know that you can give a friend, colleague, or loved one credit to use on Good Return? They’ll love being able to make a loan to a woman like Mao Rin and hear how she goes with loan repayments. Plus, until December 31st, for every 3 gifts you buy we’ll send you 1! It’s our way of saying thank you for sharing Good Return with your friends and family.
Thanks to Steph of World Education Cambodia for this story & photos.
Have you heard of Giving Tuesday? If you haven’t… you have now.
Imagine a single day where people from all across Australia rally together to give back on a local and global scale. That’s what Giving Tuesday is all about. It’s a call to action that, with enough support, will change lives and make history.
This year, on Tuesday 3 December, we are celebrating a day dedicated to giving. Charities, families, businesses, community centers, students, retailers, and more are coming together as part of a movement to celebrate giving and encourage more, better and smarter giving. And what better time to do it than the holiday season?
How many times have you received a gift that’s ‘somehow’ made its way to the trash can, or been re-gifted for another unsuspecting recipient? We’ve all done it. Sometimes there’s just too much ‘stuff.’ This season, we challenge you to give a gift that actually matters.
Giving Tuesday was started in 2012 by New York’s 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation, partly in response to the global shopping phenomenon Black Friday at the end of November. Together, they rallied different sectors together to ‘give back’ and support local not-for-profits, causes, and communities. Over 2,500 not-for-profit and business partners participated in different ways, resulting in awareness being raised of many different issues and a significant increase in giving. Blackbaud alone processed over $10 million in online donations (a 53% increase!) and DonorPerfect recorded a 46% increase in online donations. More than 50 million people worldwide spread the word about Giving Tuesday.
Now, it’s Australia’s turn!
It’s time to activate that competitive Aussie spirit and see how much YOU can give so that together WE can make a difference. Giving Tuesday is only as effective as you make it.
There are many different ways you can give. You can fund the causes that matter to you, find local volunteer opportunities, raise awareness over facebook or twitter, organise a volunteer day or fundraiser with friends or work. The possibilities are endless, and the chances are you’ll feel pretty good doing it too.
Here at Good Return, we’re supporting Giving Tuesday with our Christmas gift certificates – they’re the perfect gift for friends and family, and to say thank you for sharing Good Return with them, every time you buy three gift certificates we’ll send one to you!
We’re glad to have the occasion of Giving Tuesday to say a big THANK YOU to you for making loans to families in poverty over the past three years, and for your stunning support of our Philippines disaster relief appeal ($16,000 raised, and still going — all donations made before 12 Dec go to the Philippines, click here to donate). Many thanks to our community partner ConnectingUp for bringing this wonderful initiative to Australia.
So dig deep and give big this #GivingTuesday. C’mon Aussie!
Get involved and find out more:
- Giving Tuesday official website
- Ideas for individuals to get involved with Giving Tuesday
- Buy a Good Return Christmas gift certificate
- Donate to Good Return’s Philippines disaster relief appeal
Hi everyone, we’re pleased to provide you with another update from the Philippines. Gretchen, our Program Quality Lead, was on Skype yesterday with Luz, the Managing Director of SECDEP, our partner based on Panay Island. North-eastern Panay was hit particularly hard by Typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda), with the Passi City and Sara branches having been hit the worst.
Luz has been in the field for the past few days, checking in on staff and borrowers alike, assessing the damage and seeing how SECDEP can help. After typhoons, SECDEP provides relief supplies to its borrowers, such as non-perishable food, clean water, cleaning supplies for houses and clothes, basic medicines, and even some miscellaneous rebuilding supplies, or other useful things such as batteries. They are also considering how to get solar lanterns to affected clients, to help with lighting and the charging of mobile phones. Their largest concerns with solar lanterns is cost and equitable distribution.
We are relieved to hear as well that there has been no known loss of life in the SECDEP community (its borrowers, staff, and associated families). Considering the initial reports of destruction and death tolls, this is very good news!
Communication systems and electricity are still down for most people, reinforcing the need for other options like solar lamps and charging stations. (Although did you hear that Skype has offered free credit to those affected by the typhoon? What a great idea.) However, what remains in most demand is food and clean water.
Luz had this update for us yesterday, 20 Nov:
SECDEP has uploaded photos of their relief efforts to their Facebook page — click here to like them and to see more photos.
Good Return is sending 100% of all donations to the Philippines between 12 Nov – 12 Dec, so please donate now if you can spare a few dollars to help. All donations over $2 are tax deductible for Australian residents for tax purposes.
All the team here at Good Return have been blown away by the support shown by Australians during this time — we have fundraised a total of near $12,000, which we know goes a long way in the Philippines, but more is still desperately needed. While disaster relief isn’t our specialty, we are very glad that we can assist one of our partners during this time. Thank you again for your support!
On 8 November, disaster struck the Philippines. Typhoon Haiyan’s 315km/h winds, torrential rain and ocean surges destroyed Tacloban, the provincial capital of Leyte. It left in its wake severe devastation in the form of flattened homes, blocked roads, and damaged bridges. The death toll is estimated at 4,460 and 13 million people have been affected, and nearly a million of those have been displaced. The Filipino government has estimated that the damage caused by Typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda) is in the area of $244 million AUD, or 10 billion pesos — mostly in the farming and food production industry.
Our microfinance partner in the Philippines is SECDEP (St Elizabeth Community Development Program), based in Iloilo City on the central island of Panay. SECDEP works to provide financial services, enterprise development and health-related education to poor women in rural communities in the region. The path of Haiyan cut directly across Panay before it began to weaken in the South China Sea. Luzvminda Coronado, Managing Director of SECDEP, reported on the disaster in these words:
“After the typhoon, roads are closed due to debris, uprooted trees and floods. Power was cut off for almost all areas. Communication was lost because cell phone sites of all the networks were destroyed. Accounts of the casualties were not accurate because of loss of communication. We just know lately that thousands died due to the disaster.
Now that we are back to work, we are busy making efforts to help in the worst situation of our clients and staff. A lot of our staff are absent due to damaged houses and flash floods. We still need to find how to cope with the loss of power needed for our operations. The news said that power can be reinstated in 2 months for the most heavily hit areas, and in a few weeks in others. It was good for us the cut only hit our head office for some hours last Friday.
What we worry the most about is our clients. In two branches (Passi and Sara) heavily hit in the northern part of the island, we could not determine yet how many and how serious because of loss of communication. I had an initial information from the field staff but I need to visit the areas tomorrow. We need to be in solidarity with them who are suffering due to loss of loved ones, home, crops and hope….for the future.”
Good Return’s appeal for donations to support SECDEP’s disaster relief efforts started on 12 November. Since then, we have been blown away by the support from our members — who have donated over $11,000 to the appeal. $9,000 was transferred to the Philippines on Friday 15 November, and we look forward to sending the next amount soon. SECDEP has told us that in one branch alone, over 1,000 people have been impacted. If you are able to donate, please do so here!
A good portion of SECDEP’s clients in the affected areas are Good Return borrowers. 100% of donations are being sent to SECDEP (we are taking no portion for administration fees). Your funds will procure relief supplies such as clean water, food, soap and cleaning supplies, basic medicines, and solar lamps which provide much-needed . Once families’ immediate needs are met, they can start to rebuild their lives. Many of these poor farmers and fishermen will have to use their savings (if any) and raise new loans to repair their fishing boats, houses, or re-plant destroyed crops.
Welcome to the second article in our series. In our previous article we discussed the background to this Progress out of Poverty Index (PPI) pilot in Nepal. 19 microfinance institutions from Rural Microfinance Development Centre (RMDC)’s network participated in training in August to prepare their organisation for the pilot phase, which is currently underway.
Following the training seminar, each microfinance institution (MFI) formulated an action plan for each stage of the pilot. For the first stage, each institution provided a complete client list from both of their chosen branches. From these clients a sample size was calculated using the PPI sample calculator against the 100% National poverty line of Nepal with a 95% confidence level and +/-5% confidence interval:
Nepal PPI Sample Calculator Example – Click to view larger
Once the client size had been determined, the sample was randomly selected from the client list using a simple random number generator. The details of these clients were documented in preparation of the data collection phase. In total 6,962 clients were selected by 19 MFIs to participate in the survey.
With the client samples chosen, the next step was for management to train their staff about PPI. The revised PPI scorecard was translated into Nepali and an instruction manual based on the NLSS III (Nepal Living Standards Survey) manual was complied with the help of the Nepal Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) and RMDC. These materials were provided to each MFI to aid the training of the loan officers and staff who would be responsible for the collection of the PPI data in each branch. In total, 307 staff completed a PPI training session in preparation for this pilot.
The training consisted of a classroom component and a field visit so participants could practise collecting the PPI data using the scorecard and the manual. The participants of the original training session in Kathmandu were responsible for conducting the sessions, which took place over 1 or 2 days depending on each institution. To ensure consistency and best practise, Good Return provided a suggested agenda and presentation to guide each MFI’s training content:
1. Introduction of the PPI Scorecard Questions & Responses
- An introduction to the PPI scorecard
- Clarification of PPI Questions and responses using the instruction manual
2. Field Visit
- Each staff member to conduct PPI surveys of 3-5 clients independently
- Each staff member to verify at least one of their colleague’s surveys.
3. Discussion of Field Visit
- Discuss observations from field visit back in the training room
- Clarify any questions about PPI scorecard or responses
- Ensure all staff understand the PPI survey process.
All institutions completed PPI training by 6th September except one which conducted the training on 15th September. After completing PPI training of staff, all institutions straight away started PPI data collection in the field.
Next time, we will be reporting back on the data collection and verification process. Below are pictures of PPI staff training in some institutions.
Good Return and RMDC would like to thank the 19 MFIs participating in the PPI pilot for Nepal:
- Jeevan Bikas Samaj
- Nerude Laghubitta Bikas Bank Ltd
- NESDO (National Educational & Social Development Organisation)
- Shrijana Community Development Center
- Nirdhan Utthan Bank Ltd (NUBL)
- Mahila Sahayogi SCO Ltd
- Bauddha Grameen SCO Ltd
- Shreejana Development Centre
- Sahara Nepal SACCOS
- FORWARD Community Microfinance Bittiya Sanstha Ltd
- Rural Women Development Centre
- Nepal Women Community Service Center
- Mahuli Community Development Center
- Nawa Prativa SCO Ltd
- Chartare Yuwa Club (CYC)
Good Return would also like to thank the Accenture Australia Foundation for its support and contribution to our work in Nepal.
Read the first post in the Progress out of Poverty Index Implementation in Nepal series. Rob is Good Return’s Social Performance Management Project Officer.
World Education Australia (Good Return’s parent organisation) works with YWCA New South Wales to deliver the Alcatel-Lucent Foundation’s global initiative ConnectEd: a program that provides education and skills training opportunities for children and youth in disadvantaged areas.
For the second year, Alcatel-Lucent staff have volunteered their time to make a difference in the lives of young, vulnerable school students in Sydney, proving that even just one day can make a huge difference.
On Tuesday 15 October, 10 staff took time out to mentor eight young people through a ‘Career Workshop’ as part of the ConnectEd program.
The Career Workshop was held on-site at Alcatel-Lucent’s Sydney office for year 9 and 10 students, giving them an opportunity to explore career choices and build employability skills.
The students on the program have been identified by their school as at-risk of dropping out or disengaging, so by giving them hands on experience, their self-confidence is improved along with their understanding of the workplace. This gives them chance to evaluate their future and increases their chances of staying engaged in their education.
The main focus of the day was for mentors and students to work together on a surprise ‘apprentice-style’ challenge, and saw two teams put on their thinking caps and come up with innovative and imaginative ideas for a health app.
At the end of the workshop, Alcatel-lucent President and Managing Director, Sean O’Halloran, made time in his day to listen carefully to each team present their ideas before selecting a winning team.
For many of the students, this was the first time they had stepped inside an office, and though a little nervous at first, the mentors made them feel at ease and by the end of the day a great rapport was created in the groups and everyone had a lot of fun.
Here’s what the mentors have said:
- “It’s a change to give something back and it’s very rewarding”
- “Watching the creativity of the young people was great!”
- “It gives an opportunity to interact with young minds and not only show them around our work lives but also learn things from them”
- “It’s very inspiring to be able to interact with young adults and learn from the experience”
- “I could see a change in the kids in terms of participation and it was a wonderful thing”
- “I feel like I have really helped introduce the students to new opportunities”
- “Good feeling to see the young students enjoy and learn something and feel positive about themselves”
100% said they’d recommend the experience to others.
Here’s what the students thought:
- “It was great to spend some time with mature minds”
- “I liked working with adults”
- “I really enjoyed working as a team and meeting new people”
9 out of 10 students say they have a better understanding of work life, they learnt something from their mentor and they now have more confidence being in a formal work environment.
You can find out more about ConnectEd at the World Education Inc website.
World Education Australia (Good Return’s parent organisation) works with YWCA New South Wales to deliver the Alcatel-Lucent Foundation’s global initiative ConnectEd: a program that provides education and skills training opportunities for children and youth in disadvantaged areas.
One of the programs ConnectEd is running is in the Northern Rivers, where students are taking part in accredited hospitality training. Last month, the students had the opportunity to meet and work alongside a celebrity chef… Mindy Woods from Channel 10’s MasterChef!
On ‘Close the Gap’ Family Fun day, Mindy and the ConnectEd students cooked up a healthy selection of foods for 70 families at Jarjum Centre preschool in Lismore. Which, by all accounts, was both nutritious and delicious.
‘Closing the Gap’ is an Australian Government commitment that works to improve the lives of Indigenous Australians, and specifically Indigenous children. Mindy’s attendance at the event helped raise support for this campaign.
As well as free, healthy food made by Mindy and the ConnectEd students, there was also much fun to be had in the form of traditional dancing, storytelling, and a cooking demonstration Mindy held involving students and parents from the community. A number of traditional Aboriginal foods and ingredients were used – including a kangaroo stew and damper with wattle seeds and bush tomatoes.
Building effective, efficient and sustainable microfinance services in the Pacific
The 4th annual Pacific Microfinance Week was last week in Nadi, Fiji. Pacific Microfinance Week (PMW) is the region’s most comprehensive platform for Pacific financial sector stakeholders to share knowledge, build skills and improve services to better suit the needs of clients in the Pacific region.
As part of the week-long series of events (including workshops, field visits, seminars and a formal conference), Good Return delivered three workshops on the Progress out of Poverty Index (PPI), Client Protection Principles, the Universal Standards for Social Performance Management (USSPM).
So what does all of this mean?
The Progress out of Poverty Index (PPI) is a poverty measurement tool developed for organisations with a mission of poverty targeting and alleviation. The PPI is an objective, country-specific and easy-to-use poverty score card that estimates the likelihood that a household has expenditure below a certain poverty line. The PPI is developed from the National Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES) which makes it country specific.
How does it work?
- The PPI survey asks 10 non-financial verifiable questions about a household’s characteristics and asset ownership, e.g. “How many of your children are in school?” or “What material is your roof made of?” The questionnaire (delivered by a field officer) can be completed in 5-10 minutes.
- The PPI administrator then uses the PPI look-up table to convert the PPI score into a likelihood that the respondent’s household is living below a poverty line (i.e. national poverty lines, international poverty lines).
When scaled up, the PPI can create a “snapshot” of a particular region’s poverty levels in a country. For more information, visit the FAQs on the PPI website.
Client Protection Principles (CPPs) are the minimum standards that clients should expect to receive when doing business with a financial institution. These principles were distilled from the work of financial service providers, international networks, national microfinance associations, donors, etc to develop pro-client codes of conduct and practices. The ultimate objective of client protection principles is that financial institutions provide transparent, respectful and prudent financial services to clients. The seven Client Protection Principles are:
- Appropriate product design and delivery
- Prevention of over-indebtedness
- Responsible pricing
- Fair and respectful treatment of clients
- Privacy of client data
- Mechanisms for complaint resolution
Good Return is currently in the process of conducting Client Protection Assessments for each of its partner microfinance institutions across the Asia Pacific region. Find out more about the CPPs here.
The Client Protection Principles are part of a broader effort to mainstream social performance alongside financial performance. For the last two decades many institutions have focused more on financial sustainability than on the needs of clients. Now, many institutions are looking at how they can achieve their social purpose of improving the lives of their clients.
In order to achieve their social purpose, institutions must manage their social performance. This means defining clear social objectives, closely monitoring and assessing progress towards achieving these objectives and then using this information to improve processes and systems.
The Universal Standards for Social Performance Management (USSPM) brings a number of social performance-related initiatives under a single “umbrella” in order to develop an agreed set of global social reporting standards. An initiative of the Social Performance Task Force (SPTF), the Standards are a learning and self-evaluation tool for microfinance institutions, as well as being a useful tool for investors, networks and associations, raters and auditors, regulators and policymakers, not to mention researchers!
Meeting the Standards signifies that an institution has “strong” social performance management (SPM). The Standards are:
- Define and monitor social goals
- Ensure board, management and employee commitment to social goals
- Treat clients responsibly
- Design products, services, delivery models and channels that meet clients’ needs and preferences
- Treat employees responsibly
- Balance financial and social performance
For more information, visit the SPTF home page.
Stay tuned to hear more about Pacific Microfinance Week 2013! You can also find out more about the Pacific Microfinance Week at their home page.
Jessie is Good Return’s Program Officer and was in Fiji last week at the conference.
Did you know that last year, the world’s 100 richest people earned a stunning total of US$240 billion dollars?
After reading that figure, you could be forgiven for thinking (much like I did) that, while yes, it does sound like a lot, it also just sounds like numbers.
What does it really mean?
To put it in context, this is enough money to end extreme poverty worldwide four times over.
Yes. You read that correctly. According to the World Economic Forum 2013, 240 billion dollars, if used effectively (that is, without wastage and going directly to the areas in need) has the potential to end the poverty cycle with three quarters of its sum left over.
While the 100 richest people earned $240 billion last year, approximately 2.4 billion people live on less than $2 a day. The wealth of the top 100 earners is almost 50 times that of the combined total of these 2.4 billion people. But it’s not just the super rich who have a role to play in ending the poverty cycle.
The richest 1 per cent of the world’s population (which is anyone who earns $35 000 a year) have increased their income by 60 per cent in the last 20 years, with the financial crisis accelerating rather than slowing the process. The world’s rich, which the majority of us Australia are a part of, are richer than ever. And yet, somehow the poor remain poorer than ever.
Living in an affluent, developed country, we become desensitised to the fact that poverty is preventable. We become apathetic. I think we tend to see the problem as so overwhelming that it’s just too ‘difficult’ to deal with. And because we are so removed from it, we can forget about it without too much injury to our conscience.
But the truth is there is so much that can be done to help end poverty and improve education and health in the developing world.
Every year, nearly 2 million people die prematurely from illness attributable to indoor air pollution (which can be caused by using indoor woodstoves, kerosene lamps, etc.) which is entirely preventable. With proper stoves and facilities, these 2 million deaths would not occur. (WHO)
Every year, 655,000 people die from malaria. This translates to one child dying every minute from this preventable disease. (WHO)
And every year, 15 million children die of hunger (WHO).
These are the kind of statistics that often demotivate us because the problem seems so endemic. But in reality, they should do the opposite. These things are preventable. This means that if there is enough will from enough people, these deaths would no longer exist in these numbers. We need to remind ourselves that nobody deserves a life of poverty.
These statistics are hard to read, and hard to believe. But, more than anything, they are a wake-up call. Poverty is endemic, but it doesn’t need to be. Defeating western apathy is the first step towards defeating global poverty.
That’s what we are trying to do at Good Return. And you are the only way we can make it happen. Join our ‘No one deserves a life of poverty’ campaign and add your signature to the declaration against poverty. Your donation supports Good Return’s work: microfinance and education in the Asia Pacific.
Poverty and inequality are complex issues. We’ve explored a few other aspects in October during Anti-Poverty Month. Read more about them:
- International Rural Women’s Day: It’s about women helping women
- International Day of the Girl Child: Let’s talk about girls
- International Day of Charity
Beck Rolls is Good Return’s Marketing and Operations Assistant.
Today celebrates the 5th International Day of Rural Women. Its aim, according to the UN, is to recognise the “critical role and contribution of rural women, including indigenous women, in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty.”
Indeed, rural women play a vital economic role in both developed and developing countries. In the developing world, rural women participate in crop production and livestock care, provide food, water and fuel for their families, and also help diversify their families’ livelihoods by engaging in non-farming activities. They also carry out vital roles in caring for children, the elderly and the sick.
In Australia, one third of all women live in regional communities. One in four of these women are “self-employed, and many Australian women are running and operating successful farms and rural businesses.” (Minister for the Status of Women, Kate Ellis).
Who better to understand rural women in in the Asia Pacific than rural women in Australia?
As two of our rural supporters so articulately put it:
Everyone has a sense of pride. For women to provide for their children and families through their own efforts is a tremendous achievement for them. By lending money to women and believing in their potential to be successful can be highly motivating for them. Education for women leads to education of their children- which, in turn, can mean a whole new start in life. (Helen, QLD)
A small amount of money goes such a long way and it means that the women do it for themselves. It builds on initiative and rewards effort. It is practical and avoids the politics of division. I don’t believe that people want the charity of others if they have a choice and this gives them that choice. It is not charity it is a loan between two women. I have had the benefits of great education and it has given me choice in life. That is what I want for those who take part in Good Returns. (Diane, VIC)
It is important to remember that we are not so different from the women we run our programs for in the Asia Pacific. Women in positions of strength, leadership, and living in prosperity should never be a Western ideal. It is an ideal that must be held for all women, rural and urban, across the globe.
In the words of Ban Ki-moon, “Empowering rural women is crucial for ending hunger and poverty. By denying women rights and opportunities, we deny their children and societies a better future.”
This clearly encapsulates Good Return’s aim in our microfinance and education programs for rural women in the Asian Pacific. Rural women are strong, inspiring women. Our programs are about empowering them so that they can retain their dignity – it is not about asking for charity. We are giving them a hand up, not a hand out.
Understanding the strength behind rural businesswomen in both Australia and the Asia Pacific is integral to developing the status of women across the world. Good Return is lucky enough to have a number of rural Australian women among our supporters. So, rural Australian women are helping rural women in the Asia Pacific!
It is fitting here to close with our vision: a world without poverty where people have access to resources and opportunities to improve their own lives. Rural women play a vital role in helping us achieve this goal.
Empower rural women to lift themselves, and their families, out of poverty by supporting our Anti-Poverty Month campaign here: