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Speakers Corner #40: Why Integrate Microfinance with Health Services?

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Microlinks hosted a Speakers Corner discussion on Integrating Microfinance and Health Services on October 5-6, 2010. This discussion was hosted by the USAID Microenterprise Development office and facilitated by Marcia Metcalfe and Bobbi Gray of Freedom from Hunger and Anna Awimbo, Dr. DSK Rao and Pepper Whaling of Microcredit Summit Campaign.

This discussion explored the benefits and challenges for both clients and institutions of integrating health services with microfinance projects. Can integrated health and microfinance projects be both profitable and sustainable? How can these projects achieve scale? These questions and more were explored.  For more information about this event, view the Discussion Agenda or read About the Facilitators. Discussion resources and recommended reading for this Speakers Corner can be found in the "Quick Links" box to the right.

Forum

Welcome
Day 1 October 5, 2010 Client-level questions
Day 2 October 6, 2010 MFI-level Questions

Day 1: Client-level questions:

The first day of the Speakers Corner discussion will explore the important client-level questions around integrating health and microfinance services.  Discussion questions will include:

  • What examples are there of organizations integrating some sort of health service with their financial service offering? What examples do we have of public health initiatives integrating microfinance?
  • Why might MFIs be compelled to offer a more financial-related health protection service and what would be the perceived benefits/challenges?
  • What else would you like to know or share regarding client-level impacts and benefits when provided an integrated product (financial services and health protection services)?

Day 2: MFI-level Questions

The second day of discussion will revolve around the costs, benefits and impact on MFIs of investing in integrated health and microfinance initiatives.  Discussion questions will include:

  • Can skeptical organizations ever be turned into believers? What do you think about the proposed role of MFIs to provide or link to health protection services?
  • What are some examples of quantifying indirect benefits to MFIs? Do you feel it’s possible, or have you have experiences to suggest that this type of indirect benefit would be possible?
  • What is needed to increase the numbers of MFIs and health care organizations working together?  How can these initiatives achieve scale?
  • What questions or concerns are still left to be addressed? What barriers or opportunities do health care organizations feel exist to working with MFIs?
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