September 20, 2023
Financial inclusion, providing access to financial services to marginalized communities, has gained significant attention in recent years. The success of financial inclusion goes beyond providing access to loans and banking services. It hinges on establishing robust relationships with local partners, who play a crucial role in ensuring sustainability.
This year, Opportunity International Canada celebrates 25 years of our work in poverty alleviation and providing sustainable solutions to overcome marginalization. We’ve had the privilege of developing solid relationships with Implementing Partners, who are the arms and feet to our work. Our success to date is largely a result of these partners, who work to bridge gaps, build trust, and ensure sustainability.
Local implementing partners are organizations or NGOs that operate within local communities. They possess an intimate understanding of the local culture, language, and socio-economic dynamics. This knowledge is invaluable when designing and implementing financial inclusion programs that resonate with the community’s needs.
Here are three ways Implementing Partners are vital to ensuring sustainability and overcoming marginalization.
Local implementing partners act as a bridge to the community. They translate complex financial concepts into terms that clients easily understand to improve financial literacy. This ensures that the services offered are not only accessible but also relatable to the people they are meant to serve.
Working with a local partner is also key to removing physical barriers that prevent access, with case workers having the ability to visit clients directly in their homes.
2. BUILDING TRUST AND PROMOTING ACCOUNTABILITY
The transformative nature of our work goes beyond providing financial assistance; it’s about a sense of belonging, ownership, and mutual support that our Implementing Partners can cultivate.
One way we are able to do this is through Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA). A VSLA is a community group of about 20 clients. They meet weekly to make a deposit and learn new financial management skills. Deposits are kept in a secure box requiring three keys, each kept by a different leader. Funds in the VSLA can be lent out to members (or others), earning interest revenue for the group. At year-end, proceeds can be paid or reinvested in the next round.
Now part of a community, clients are no longer marginalized. And with ongoing support and training, they increase their financial literacy, learn how to run a small business, and gain confidence.
3. NAVIGATING CULTURAL NUANCES AND TAILORING SOLUTIONS
Cookie-cutter solutions seldom work in the realm of financial inclusion. Opportunity’s Implementing Partners have insights into our client’s specific challenges, cultural norms, and practices. This knowledge allows them to tailor training and support to cater to unique needs and circumstances.
Sustainable financial inclusion requires continuous improvement. Implementing Partners serve as the eyes and ears on the ground, monitoring the impact of initiatives and gathering feedback. This real-time information is invaluable for making necessary adjustments and ensuring the program’s relevance. At Opportunity International Canada, we are grateful for the meaningful relationships we’ve developed with Implementing Partners who make our work possible. By working collaboratively, we’re crafting solutions that truly resonate with our clients, driving sustainable financial inclusion and empowerment.
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