Philippines: Oikocredit, NWTF and ASKI

Bridging the Gender Gap in Responsible Finance

Bridging the Gender Gap in Responsible Finance is a pilot project funded by Church of Sweden and implemented by Oikocredit and two partners in Philippines: Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation (NWTF) and  Alalay Sa Kaunlaran Sa Gitnang Luzon Inc. (ASKI) to adapt GALS and FALS methodology for gender mainstreaming in their micro-finance product and service delivery.

  • Oikocredit is committed to promotion of responsible finance that is both financially sustainable and client-centric to improve social outcomes for the poor. A particular focus is on providing women with access to credit, combined with offers women finance literacy, self-development, and governance skills, in order to reduce their personal vulnerability at the same time increase their country’s development prospects. For more about Oikocredit see Oikocredit International website and gender initiatives.
  • Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation (NWTF) NWTF was founded in 1984 and registered in 1986 to help women achieve self-sufficiency and self-reliance, particularly in Negros Occidental’s low-income and depressed rural communities. From 1989 it has been using the Grameen credit methodology. In 2006 it opened Dungganon Bank in Bacolod City. It offers both group loans, and individual loans to clients who have first proven themselves at group level. It also offers training programmes on business development, wealth management, environmental awareness and leadership. By 2017 it was serving over 312,066 clients in almost 100 cities and municipalities, of who over 999% are women. At least 28% of clients have moved out of poverty five years after entry. For details of NWTF and profiles of NWTF clients see: NWTF websiteDungganon and women’s empowerment, From sari sari store to  multi-family business and Angelita’s story. 
  •  Alalay Sa Kaunlaran Sa Gitnang Luzon Inc. (ASKI) is a microfinance institution launched in 1987 to provide financial services and training in a number of provinces in the northern Philippines. ASKI offers a wide range of loan types: from group loans and individual loans to loans for particular activities such as agriculture. ASKI also offers savings products and micro-insurance. For the most disadvantaged communities, ASKI provides community development programmes. Such programmes include the organization and development of communities, and capacity building programmes. ASKI also provides business development training, including product development assistance, marketing training and consultancy. By 2017 it was serving (???) clients, of whom 75% are women.

Why Bridging the Gender Gap?

Although the overwhelming majority of clients are women, and there are numerous client success stories, wealth creation and empowerment in poor and disadvantaged communities are ongoing processes. For very many clients these gender inequalities continue to constrain both development of their businesses, and the degree to which they benefit from their hard work. Addressing gender inequalities benefits not only women, but also men through empowering them to challenge negative aspects of male gender roles that lead to violence, wasteful expenditure, addictions, other health problems and hence cause a great deal of unhappiness for all concerned. Addressing gender issues both of clients and staff will have positive benefits for the MFI, not only their social mission, but also sustainability, profitability and hence longer term expansion.

Bridging the Gender Gap (BGG) adapts and integrates gender empowerment tools from Gender Action Learning for Sustainability (GALS) tools with the Financial Action Learning System (FALS) methodology. It aims to strengthen empowerment potential of existing financial and business training and mainstream gender in the design of the products and services of the institution, as well as improving the FI policies and practices in the context of responsible inclusive finance.

Expected outcomes are that:

  • Clients have a life planning and financial empowerment methodology that they can share with others in their families and communities to increase benefits from FSP products and services and help the FSP expand to new reliable clients.
  • FSP has participatory tools to develop more empowering products and services for its clients, especially with poor women, on an ongoing basis as new needs arise
  • FSP has a Road Map to mainstream gender empowerment into their credit policy / strategy policy and product development towards improving SPM across their areas of operation

The pilot is expected to develop tools, best practices and lessons learnt with aim of adaptation with other Oikocredit partners in Southeast Asia and India.   The insights and experience from the pilot project are expected to provide important input for Oikocredit programmes and activities globally.


Oikocredit Empowerment Toolkit

The Oikocredit Empowerment Toolkit will build on, integrate with and complement rather than replicate existing business, livelihood and leadership training. Its explicit focus is on empowering clients to address gender inequalities in their households and communities. Two phases are involved:

Phase 1 Visioning and catalysing gender empowerment  July – December 2017

A pilot with champions in selected locations:

  • working with women clients to identify their gender change priorities and how business development/microfinance and social networks can help them achieve these.
  • sharing these visions and strategies with men in their families and communities and helping men develop their own gender visions for change.
  • working with the FSP on their gender empowerment vision and identifying challenges and actions to achieve it.
  • reviewing existing training materials and micro-finance products from a gender empowerment perspective
  • tracking and documenting progress at these levels.

Phase 2 Gender Empowerment mainstreaming and upscaling  January – June 2018

  • reviewing progress of women and men clients and people in their families and communities
  • identifying and implementing the most effective and cost-efficient ways of mainstreaming gender empowerment across the organisation – integrating into existing products and trainings and/or specific gender empowerment modules and products
  • certifying and advanced training for the most active champions as paid community trainers to upscale the adapted methodology in new locations
  • certifying and advanced training for FSP and Oikocredit staff for ongoing mainstreaming and upscaling
  • agreeing the FSP empowerment Road Map
  • finalising the Empowerment Toolkit for upscaling
  • dissemination workshop with MFI networks in Philippines

Client Empowerment: Catalyst Workshop

This is a 5 day workshop with women and men clients, focusing on those who are struggling rather than existing leaders.

It consists of 5 Tools that are used at individual level, then adapted for group and FSP levels for participatory market research, integrating empowerment gender into SPM and as p;art of the loan application process.

Tool 1: Happy Family Visioning

what does a happy family look like? what are women, men and children doing? what do they have? who owns what? what is the role of micro-finance? what is there already? what important changes are needed?

Download Oikocredit_1_Vision pdf

  • Tool 2: Happy Family Tree: Looks in more detail at division of work, expenditure, assets and decision-making in the family. How to make these both more efficient and equitable. This tool forms the basis of empowerment and gender indicators for SPM, and a tool that can be used and aggregated to assess change.

Download Oikocredit_2_HappyFamilyTree pdf

  • Tool 3: Financial Empowerment Map: Looks at emotional, financial and power relationships that can help or constrain progress, including access to financial resources and people they can share the empowerment tools with. As well as increasing understanding of clients’ lives by FSP staff, this tool forms the basis for the upscaling plan and identification of champions who might be paid in future.

Download Oikocredit_3_FinancialEmpowermentMap pdf

  • Tool 4: Increasing Income Challenge Action Tree: Identifies in more detail recurrent challenges in production, marketing and household, looking at gender issues and role of micro-finance. This Tool is also used by the FSP for participatory market research on specific products and services.

Download Oikocredit_4_CAT pdf

  • Tool 5: Financial Management Calendar Plan: A plan for business and financial management, integrating learnings from the Happy Family Tree, Financial Empowerment Map and Challenge Action Tree.  The tools is tracked as a tool for learning to manage businesses and finance better. At FSP level this becomes over time a required part of the loan application process, and assessing applications for loan rescheduling. When applying for loans clients need to bring any previous FMCs and a new FMC for the loan being applied for.

This will be designed with clients and FSP staff in Philippines, but based on the Multilane Livelihood Management Calendar developed with horticulture farmers in Ethiopia.


Client empowerment and gender mainstreaming: FSP Workshop

This is a 5 day workshop with FSP staff and selected sessions with women and men clients and FSP management. The tools are an extension of the client tools above. Full Toolkit is to be designed with the FSP and piloted in September.

Mainstreaming and Upscaling Phase – October 2017 – March 2018

Activities and Toolkit to be designed on the basis of experience in Catalyst Phase.