With SFI support, Amartha, an Indonesia-based peer-to-peer platform that serves women in rural villages, expanded their reach to 53,000 women in need of affordable loans with lenders seeking a financial return tos improve their living conditions through access to affordable financial products and financial and entrepreneurship education.
Amartha prototyped and rolled out a proof of concept for three pillars of intervention: entrepreneurship, health and sanitation, and environmental awareness programs. Amartha developed new modules of financial literacy education specifically designed for women from low education and socioeconomic status and business skills training for women micro-entrepreneurs. Additionally, Amartha offered free medical check-ups for 112 rural families, distributed eyeglasses to 1,092 visually impaired women micro-entrepreneurs, and 1,766 reusable bags.
This proof of concept validated Amartha’s hypothesis that combining health and hygiene activities to benefit borrowers would improve performance. Chief Risk and Sustainability Officer Aria Widyanto notes, “We saw increased quality of the loan and business of the borrowers. This reduced nonperforming loans and attendance rate of borrowers at meetings improved as a result of improved.The attendance rate (90%) in these villages was 10% higher than in other groups. Once the attendance rate improves, the repayment rate improves as well.” Further, in the areas where Amartha operates the poverty level decreased by 12% per year. Compared to 0.5% in other communities.
The new program will be sustainable and scaled up through two new partnerships formed with Unilever and the Government of Java. The Government of West Java adopted the financial literacy module and has already used it to teach 2,799 women trainers, coming from 100 villages who will engage women entrepreneurs’ communities in rural areas in all 27 regencies across West Java. Unilever is supporting expansion of Amartha’s activities, with more than 68,000 women reached as of March 2020.