How our Field Partners help us support the most marginalised
Our Field Partners are grassroot microfinance organisations who are instrumental to Deki's success. They support our entrepreneurs to access Deki loans, provide them with business training and manage their repayments. They work with Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLA) to identify the entrepreneurs for our lenders to support. VSLA is a group of people in a community who save together and take small loans from those savings. Some of our Field Partners work with existing VSLA groups, while others help the community to set one up. Field Partners then identify people from the community to get a Deki loan based on a number of selection criteria:
- They use the Poverty Probability Index (PPI) to ensure that the Deki loans support the poorest and most marginalised members of the community. PPI assessments are statistically-sound, yet simple to use: the answers to 10 questions about a household’s characteristics and asset ownership are scored to compute the likelihood that the household is living below the poverty line.
- There is also a strong emphasis on providing loans to female entrepreneurs. Women’s rights tend to be limited to access to and not ownership of land (and the proceeds from it), and they have very limited access to or have decision-making ability over credit. 70-75% of Deki entrepreneurs are female to address gender inequality and empower female entrepreneurs. This meant that in 2017 we supported more women in Africa than ever before.
2018 – the year of change
From the beginning, Deki not only provided loans, but also business training to our entrepreneurs, helping to strengthen financial literacy and the sustainability of business ventures and income. In early 2018 we've introduced a new monitoring and evaluation framework for our Field Partners (both existing and new) so we can understand their, and our own impact better. Our partners are completing client evaluation surveys throughout their work with the entrepreneurs. There is a pre-loan survey, followed by two checks during the repayment period and one on completion. With these stricter monitoring measures, we'll be able to see clearer the impact the Deki loans are having on people's lives – from increase in household income, ability to grow their business enough to offer employment to others in the community, to seeing how entrepreneurs' own perception of their empowerment has changed.
For this last indicator of success, we're excited to start using the Women's Empowerment Index, developed by The Hunger Project. It's a composite index designed to measure progress in the multi-dimensional aspects of women’s empowerment. It considers empowerment to be a factor of both women’s achievements as well as of gender parity with men.
We're also looking to offer support services, to address the underlying issues that make the Deki entrepreneurs marginalised in the first place – such as gender inequality and perception of disability in the community.
The man behind the curtain – meet Rowan, our International Programmes & Fundraising Manager
Tell us a little about yourself
My first experience in the charity sector was volunteering for a youth development charity in Nepal. I studied International Development at the University of Bristol, then worked for a variety of charities, like Amnesty International, The Australian Red Cross and the RSPCA. Quite a mixed bag. I have a little boy and surf as much as I can.
What the best part of working with our Field Partners?
Working with the local experts on the ground who understand the needs of each entrepreneur. By working with these organisations we get to strengthen civil society in the communities we work in, have a truly long-term impact.
How about the most challenging thing?
Working with field partners remotely (for the most part) has its challenges, internet dropping out, time differences and sometimes we have to rely on translators.
What's your hope for Deki in the next 5 years?
In five years, Deki will be progressively developing field partners, enabling them to become sustainable and effective micro finance institutions working independently of Deki. Deki will be enabling more individuals to build sustainable business that give their families the opportunity to stop living in poverty.