Potential of microfinance to address multiple economic, social and health issues
This paper underscores the potential of microfinance to change the structural dimensions of poor people’s lives. It presents findings and lessons from a successful Intervention with microfinance for AIDS and gender equity (IMAGE) partnership between Small Enterprise Foundation (SEF) and Rural AIDS and Development Action Research (RADAR) in South Africa.
IMAGE, a combination of microfinance and education about gender equity and HIV/AIDS, successfully handled the challenge of combining two very different interventions in one project. MFIs seeking to replicate the model need to keep in mind the context that IMAGE worked in, namely South Africa and SEF:
- SEF is a strong organization that succeeded in a high cost low skills environment
- SEF faced a number of management challenges on account of the IMAGE project, hence capacity issues need to be considered
- SEF is strongly poverty focused and fit well into the conceptual framework of IMAGE
- SEF’s group-based model was an ideal platform for Sisters for Life training.
The IMAGE experience demonstrates the synergies in linking microfinance with other development interventions. Given the social goals of most MFIs, the IMAGE experience challenges them to do more.