Barbara Magnoni Personal Messages for WMANY group :
Fellow WMANY member, As you know, I own and manage EA and have been active in microfinance and financial inclusion for over two decades. During this time, I have seen some shifts in the sector, particularly in countries that once boasted a strong participation of women in financial institutions that lend to poor women. Over time, their leadership has been replaced by men, often under the guise of a need for “experience”. This has been difficult to observe on multiple levels. Women employees feel stuck and lose interest in their sector. Men often drift from the mission of serving the poor and most vulnerable (women) because it is harder than serving a burgeoning middle class. Today, only 18% of Board Chairs in MFIs in Lac are women, only 28% of CEOs. As a result of this imbalance, in 2015, I co-founded, Andares, Mujeres para las microfinanzas. A network of women in Latin America who work in the microfinance field and seek opportunities to support the leadership of women in their sector.
Andares, together with Women Advancing Microfinance, New York (WAM NY) are organizing a fundraiser on June 21 in NYC. The event is raising funds exclusively for a peer exchange to support women’s leadership in MFIs in LAC through Andares. We believe that peer exchanges are an effective and cost-effective complement to TA for MFIs as they can have a more lasting effect as they train leaders internally rather than bring external consultants (at the risk of putting ourselves out of business). Peer exchanges can also be critical to leveling the “experience” playing field between men and women in MFI leadership.
Women’s World Banking often works with financial institutions which offer new products like microinsurance for low-income women. It becomes difficult to explain to women in the low-income group why they need to pay regular premium for health microinsurance even though in the future they might not even benefit from this investment if the physical condition is not included in the health plan and if they do not fall sick within a specified period.
To sell microinsurance the loan officer will not only have to persuade her clients to buy something that might be of no use for them but she also has to invest extra time per client in order to educate them about the product. Therefore financial institutions have to first convince the staff about the utility of the product in order to sustain it in the long-term. From an institutional strategic point of view it is important to train the loan officers about the importance of microinsurance. First, it offers a risk management tool to their clients. Second, it can offer clients a smooth cash flow during financial emergencies without incurring additional debt or risk-dipping into their hard earned savings. From the institutional point of view training about selling microinsurance must translate to the loan officer’s benefits as well. If the loan officer’s clients have insurance:
They will continue to pay back the loan installments in a timely manner even during financial emergencies, resulting in a healthy PAR (portfolio at risk) for the loan officer
This would result in better incentives
The loan officer can demonstrate the organization’s commitment to the welfare of the clients and thus strengthen their personal relationship with the clients
Staff training is a continuous cycle and is an effective tool for an organization’s change management. It includes collecting feedback from the trainees and monitoring individual and branch performance to identify keys gaps in the training and provide refresher courses from time to time.
Develop and grow women leaders within to take on important and critical leadership roles within the organization.
Create a leadership development program that ensures female roles models within the organization.
The selection criteria was based on having a good performance, results in obtaining ABC and SGCS goals, clean record of conduct, and report of the Regional Manager. In the workshop ‘Leaders of the Future, Actions for the Present’, activities were designed to explain technical and theoretical concepts, and encourage leadership. The teams shared their experiences and established best practices. Different kinds of leadership were also discussed and an ideal leadership model for the organization was proposed which aligned with the values and principles of the organization. The different challenges facing leadership of women were also discussed in details. The following modules were completed during the workshop: Module I: Knowing
The leadership of people
Module II: Creating and Implementing
Changing Management and Leadership
Culture of Leadership and Success
Coaching and Mentoring
Daily Tools for My Leadership
During the workshop two testimonies were shared with the participants. In the first testimony Katherine Hurtado, a Community Associate Advisor, talks about the best lesson that she learned in the women Leading the Way workshop, that anyone of us can be a leader if they have a vision to improve and innovate. Her participation in the workshop helped her improve her skills by applying procedures in details, and complying with processes and regulations. In the second testimonial, a Deputy Manager of a service center, believes that self-analysis technique was the most beneficial skill she learned during the workshop. The workshop encouraged her to apply the ‘trust’ technique with her team and better plan and organize her work.