While persons with disabilities (PWD) make up 15 percent of the developing world’s population it is estimated that they represent only 0.5 percent of current MFI clients. While some PWDs have challenges so severe that economic participation is not feasible and ill advised, the vast majority (80-85 percent) have the capacity to utilize and benefit from financial services. This means that literally hundreds of millions of PWDs who are viable microfinance clients are unserved. Making the impact we all seek at the base of the pyramid is fundamentally impossible unless we get better at reaching and empowering this vital and talented customer segment.
The Smart Campaign has joined forces with the Persons with Disability Program of the Center for Financial Inclusion and Fundación Paraguaya to create a set of how-to trainings and tools that will help MFIs become disability friendly and inclusive. The goal of this work is connected to and aligned with Client Protection Principle #5 — Fair and Respectful Treatment of Clients — in particular the section that addresses the critical importance of enshrining non-discriminatory practices.
Below are all the tools and trainings in English with a brief description for each of them and translated versions where available.
A Framework for Microfinance Institutions Seeking to Close the Financial Inclusion Gap for Persons with Disabilities. This Framework was developed with guidance from leaders in both the microfinance and disability inclusion communities and is being refined and tested at Fundación Paraguaya, in conjunction with our strategic partner Handicap International. It identifies seven core areas that MFIs need to address to achieve PWD inclusion:
- Universal Design and Reasonable Accommodation
- Partnership with Disability Organizations
- Human Resources Policy, Practices
- Disability Inclusion Staff Training
- Legal Framework
- Technology-Enabled Inclusion
- Financial Capabilities
This Framework integrates all our tools and trainings described in detail below into six pragmatic and actionable implementation steps— a real “how to” guide. We recommend that it be read first as it gives context to the other documents and provides a cogent overview of the themes explored below.