> Posted by Misha Dave and Jeffrey Riecke, Disability Inclusion Program Manager and Communications Specialist, CFI

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Financial inclusion for persons with disabilities (PWD) is a hugely under-addressed area in the quest to bank the unbanked. Estimates indicate that less than one percent of microfinance clients globally are PWD, despite roughly 15 percent of the global population having some sort of disability, and four-fifths of these individuals living in developing countries. The Center’s Financial Inclusion for PWD program, launched in 2010, has developed steadily since its inception. Here on the CFI blog you might’ve seen us spotlight our Framework for Disability Inclusion, our report on attitudes related to disability inclusion among Indian MFIs, or our disability inclusion partnerships with MFIs.

The program has been busy over the past year. Let’s take a look at a few highlights.

India Partnerships: The Center’s PWD program provides trainings and resources to sensitize and equip MFIs to service PWD clients. The program recently forged new partnerships with two MFIs in India, Grameen Koota and Micrograam, bringing the total number of partnerships with institutions in the country to five. The other three partner institutions in India are Equitas, ESAF, and Annapurna. Across these three original partners, more than 30,000 lower-income disabled persons, including 2,000 visually impaired individuals (a severely excluded disability segment), have been included.

India Trainings: The program has trained over 160 field staff in six regions/states in India: Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Odisha, Karnataka, West Bengal, and Jharkhand. Recent inclusion programming and trainings were conducted at Micrograam’s three sub-partners in West Bengal, Jharkhand, and Tamil Nadu. And disability awareness surveys and sensitization trainings were completed with all branch managers of Grameen Koota in Karnataka.

Expansion in India: The India PWD program recently secured funding to expand its core program to three new partners in new regions. The India program is working to develop strong business case materials, collect data and client stories, revamp the core trainings, provide more practical tools for MFIs, and disseminate disability inclusion best practices.

Fundacion Paraguaya: CFI continues to work closely with Fundacion Paraguaya on a two-year expansion of the institution’s disability program to serve more PWD based on the Center’s Framework for Disability Inclusion.

Mental Health: The CFI is also working with Fundacion Paraguaya on the development of a mental health indicator for inclusion in the institution’s Poverty Stoplight tool, which helps assess the quality of life and poverty level of clients. Joshua Goldstein spoke at the 8th Pan-African Psychotrauma Conference, where he discussed the potential for victims of trauma becoming microfinance clients.

The Ecuadorian Government continues to receive advisory support from the Center on how to integrate disability best practices in the country’s financial sector.

Nigeria: Accion Microfinance Bank in Nigeria launched the People Living with Disabilities (PLWD) product to provide loans for PWD under the auspices of the Central Bank of Nigeria. The Center’s PWD program provided technical assistance on the initiative. The Center also met with the Vice President of Nigeria on advancing disability inclusion in the financial sector, and provides ongoing support to the Central Bank on how to create disability-inclusive institutions.

BRAC Bangladesh, which the Center provides disability inclusion assistance to, has achieved a client base of 7,000 PWD.

The Framework for Disability Inclusion was recently revamped to increase usability.

The New Client Protection Standards, currently being finalized by the Smart Campaign, include new language on protecting persons with disabilities from discrimination.

This is only a snapshot of the program’s happenings. Stay tuned to this blog for more updates.

For more information on the CFI’s Financial Inclusion for PWD program, click here.

Have you read?

Disability Inclusion, in Ecuador and Around the World: An Interview with Larry Reed

Four Interventions to Help Victims of Trauma Find Hope and Dignity

A How-To Guide to Realizing Disability Inclusion at MFIs Is Now Available