Credit With Education: A Self-Financing Way to Empower Women

A new approach to empowering women

This article looks at the 'credit with education' initiative which provides the participants with small working capital loans, a safe place to deposit savings, and education in health, nutrition and family planning. When delivered to very poor women who have come together to form joint liability borrower groups, these components can yield an increase in household food security and individual nutrition and health status, due to increases in women's incomes and savings, their improved nutrition and health practices, and perhaps most importantly, their enhanced self confidence and status or empowerment.

The credit mechanism of credit with education is based on the village bank methodology pioneered by the Grameen Bank and further developed by FINCA. The credit with education field agent provides training and facilitates education in three principal arenas:

  • Trains and encourages women to manage their own credit association businesses;
  • Women also learn to manage their own loan capital;
  • The majority of the learning sessions are dedicated to training about health and nutrition matters.

The article concludes that credit with education:

  • Is empowering women through integrated financial and education services;
  • Fosters learning readiness and continuity of learning opportunity that is greater than in most other types of the adult education programs.

Furthermore, the integrated nature of the model poses certain challenges, but they are more than offset by the multiple benefits and their synergism. As these programs grow, they are approaching full financial self sufficiency, with reasonable interest charges on small, working capital loans to support the micro-enterprises of the women. 

[Adapted from the authors' abstract]

About this Publication

By Vor der Bruegge, E., Plas, M. et al.