Bénin, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Ecuador, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Madagascar, Mali, Mexico, Peru, the Philippines, South Africa, Togo and Vietnam

Women living in rural poverty must overcome numerous hardships to earn money and feed their children. Many have suffered malnutrition their entire lives and cannot read or write—yet they do their best with what they have.

Credit with Education is Freedom from Hunger’s signature service-delivery innovation, offered in partnershipwith local MFIs. It is an integrated program of microfinance, combined with dialogue-based adult education specially designed to meet the unique needs of poor women in rural areas.

When a woman joins a Credit with Education group in her village, she links arms with other women whom she probably knows well. Together, these groups of women receive loans and jointly guarantee repayment. At regular meetings, the women gather to make repayments and deposit their savings.

Credit with Education participants also join in lively learning sessions led by a local partner organization staff person who speaks their language and understands their culture and customs. These dialogue-based learning sessions incorporate new information and leverage the knowledge and experience of the group members. The women don't need to read or write to learn because the concepts are shared using story, role-play, demonstration, discussion and song.

Development and Impact of Credit with Education

Freedom from Hunger launched Credit with Education in 1989 with 50 women in Mali and 50 women in Thailand. Today, Credit with Education reaches more that 1.6 million people in 17countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Based on our experience working with our partner MFIs, Freedom from Hunger has improved upon the Credit with Education methodology with the development of technical modules to help local organizations adjust their management systems to fully embrace and incorporate Credit with Education into their operations.

Freedom from Hunger has also developed a range of education modules on issues as diverse as health, nutrition, business and money management. Our extensive research on the root causes of hunger and poverty and on the effectiveness of various adult learning techniques have helped the program continue to evolve.

The women receive education on a variety of topics, including:

  • Child and infant health and nutrition
  • Breastfeeding
  • Women's health and nutrition
  • Family planning
  • Preventing and managing common diseases, including malaria in some countries
  • How to grow a business with better sales and customer service practices
  • How to diversify entrepreneurial activities
  • Basic accounting (that can be done without knowing how to write numbers)
  • How to manage a household budget
  • How to use a loan wisely
  • Savings strategies

Freedom from Hunger has a long commitment to evidence-based innovation. We have conducted multi-year evaluations to measure the various impacts of Credit with Education. In research studies conducted in Bolivia, Ghana, Mali, Peru and Thailand, Freedom from Hunger and independent researchers documented some important findings.

Women participating in Credit with Education, when compared to similar women, have more income and assets, a greater sense of personal empowerment to make decisions, and better-nourished and healthier children. Moreover, participating women also manage their businesses better and earn more money (especially during slow seasons) as compared with non-participants.

Local Organizations Adding Value to Microfinance

Freedom from Hunger works with local partners to expand its reach, working with dozens of local financial services organizations (MFIs, credit unions and rural banks) in Africa, Asia and Latin America to offer the program to reach more than 1.6 million women.

Freedom from Hunger and its partners in developing countries have shown over the past 20 years that Credit with Education is an effective, practical and financially self-sustaining way for financial service organizations to provide other valuable services that support the efforts of poor women and their families—even those so poor they are chronically hungry.