Bac Giang, 24 March, 2010: Studies show that when a woman earns money the benefits to the family are greater. Her children are more likely to stay in school longer, they are healthier and the family is better nourished. In a 1998 study in Bangladesh (380kb pdf), for instance, this was documented by measuring children’s height and arm circumference as well as school attendance records
Throughout the world the success of micro credit programs which target women’s employment has proved an efficient tool for development, particularly in poor rural areas.
The US$298 million Second Vietnam Rural Finance Program is built on a successful partnership with the Vietnam Bank for Agriculture and Development and the Vietnam Women’s Union. The Bank disburses the micro-credit and the women’s union manages the credit users groups.
Ngo Thi Xuyen, director Agribank, Bac Giang province, says: “The Women’s Union set up the loan groups in the villages. Borrowers take a loan to start small businesses like poultry, farming, cattle and horticulture. Most households borrow between US$ 500 to US$1000 for which they don’t need collateral.” The lending cycle ranges from four months to 14 years depending on the product cycle.
The program has created some 10,000 jobs with women accounting for 35% of borrowers. Nearly all the funds have been invested in agriculture or animal farming and have made an effective contribution to developing the economy in an area that has been traditionally backward. Agribank has also invested in several mobile banking SUVs which arrive at remote mountain areas at prearranged dates to provide loans and collect repayments from village communities.
At their annual meeting in Bac Giang, we ask a group of 54 women borrowers if the program has had any impact on their lives.