Fighting Poverty and Reducing Gender Gap In Kosovo. Let’s Meet FINCA Kosovo
FINCA Impact Finance started operating in Kosovo in February 2000, less than a year after the conclusion of a war that cost thousands of lives and displaced more than one million people.
FINCA Kosovo, launched with support from USAID, has effectively expanded financial inclusion and in the process helped families expand financial inclusion to help individuals. Especially women. But how does it work?
FINCA Kosovo in Numbers
FINCA Kosovo, a branch of FINCA International, is a non-governmental and not-for-profit organization, launched with the aim to boost financial inclusion.
In the nearly two decades since FINCA Kosovo distributed its first loan, it has contributed to the country’s recovery by offering a range of responsible financial products and services designed to help entrepreneurs settle up profitable businesses and, more important, take control of their financial futures.
Speaking in numbers, the company served more than 25 million people. According to data, about a quarter of FINCA’s clients in the country are women, most of whom are the primary source of income for their families.
In 20 years the company gave $67.5 million loans with an average of $2,600 each.
FINCA Kosovo’s Business Model
FINCA Kosovo offers financial services such as: individual loans, small group and solidarity loans, and loans for agricultural activity.
In addition to financial services, FINCA also delivers training on topics like agriculture and finance.
Recently, the company has established a Learning and Development Center with the purpose of offering various training to all its clients free of charge at a training facility yet to be identified. The intended number of trainees for one calendar year is minimum 700. FINCA Kosovo covers the expenses of travel and all other expenses for its clients to attend the training. This facility will have its governing body and the staff required.
The goal of such a project is to improve FINCA Kosovo clients' competencies in use of digital financial services and online trading and online opportunities. More importantly, it aims to boost users' general knowledge in agriculture and livestock and, of course, increase financial inclusion and understanding of advantages and disadvantages of loans or better knowledge over the interest rates and expenses.
The Business Loans for Women Support Entrepreneurship
As we underlined, FINCA Kosovo focuses its attention on gender gap and women. Concerning that, on International Women’s Day in 2018, FINCA Impact Finance’s subsidiary in Kosovo launched an innovative loan product designed to empower women: the Loan for Women Entrepreneurs in Business and Agribusiness.
FINCA Kosovo’s Loan for Women Entrepreneurs provides the funds necessary for an entrepreneur to grow and scale her business. Each loan package is personalized and comes with special repayment terms including no disbursement fees and a grace period of up to 12 months. There are other benefits as well. Financial literacy training is included in every loan package, plus, when a woman receives the loan, she’s offered the training and support she needs to expand her business.
FINCA Kosovo is also providing a platform for women across the country to come together and share their experiences. It organizes events at the branch level and teaming with local women’s associations and non-governmental organizations to support their activities, promote their products and provide training in various fields.
From Agribusiness to Start-Up: Let’s Get Women Businesses Off the Ground
The FINCA agribusiness loan was a success, but after the pandemic, a bold move was needed. The company decided to get women's business off the ground. That’s why in 2021, FINCA Kosovo launched a new start-up loan. With the new loan, FINCA Kosovo can help women with an idea for a shop, a salon, a restaurant, a farm or even an animal husbandry endeavour get the start they need. Applicants must be 18 years of age or older and FINKA offers a flexible payment plan with grace period up to 12 months.
Why Focus on Women?
According to data, women make up 55% of the world’s unbanked population, meaning they have no access to banking or insurance products. For many of these almost 1 billion women globally who have no access to financial services, it means that their money is not protected, they have no access to savings or checking accounts, or financial products like insurance, credit facilities and loans.
However, studies confirm that female borrowers of regulated MFIs have lower write-offs, portfolio risk and fewer provisions than men, making them ideal clients. Additionally, women spend 90% of their income on family needs compared to only 35% of men. This also means educational attainment for their children increases, which can double or triple a young girl’s future income.
According to data, such investment in long-term gender equality means 150 million more people have access to food worldwide and boost the economy by doubling global GDP to about $160 trillion. Overall, women provide diversification and economic resilience to the global market and efforts to multiply gender equality, like microfinance services, will only further boost the economy.