Two groups put health, banking together
Two Seattle nonprofits are teaming up to combine banking for Latin America's poor with health services such as family planning and cancer screening for women. Global Partnerships, which funds microfinance institutions, and the global-health experts at PATH are working with Pro Mujer, a development and microfinance organization that focuses on poor women in Latin America.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Two Seattle nonprofits are teaming up to combine banking with health services such as family planning and cancer screening for women in Latin America.
Global Partnerships, which funds microfinance institutions, and the global-health experts at PATH are working with Pro Mujer, a development and microfinance organization that focuses on poor women in Latin America.
Starting in Nicaragua, the new initiative will serve Pro Mujer's microfinance clients with the goal of creating a new finance-health model and expanding it elsewhere.
"Poverty and poor health are inextricably linked, and the solutions are as well," said Rick Beckett, CEO of Global Partnerships, which will lead the project. "One of the strategic challenges facing the microfinance industry is the need to develop fully sustainable solutions that address multiple facets of poverty."
Based in New York, Pro Mujer combines small loans and other financial services with health care and training for women in five Latin American countries, reaching more than 200,000 borrowers and savers.
In Peru, it delivers mobile banking and health checkups to rural areas in vans retrofitted with consultation rooms and staffed with medical personnel.
The new partnership aims to expand access to such health services and make them financially sustainable for the nonprofit and affordable for the clients.
PATH first will assess the most pressing health problems of Pro Mujer's clients in Nicaragua and develop strategies to address them through the issuance of small loans.
PATH will be looking mainly at preventive and primary care, said Chief Executive Chris Elias, with the long-term goal of breaking the cycle of poverty and poor health, including maternal and child mortality, cervical cancer, domestic violence and chronic diseases.
Pro Mujer's clients meet in groups of 20 or 30 once or twice a month. The women form a communal bank and guarantee each other's loans.
"It's a one-stop shop for these women," said Gloriana Guillen, the nonprofit's communications director. "They repay the loan, they receive training, they receive the health services and mentor and support each other."
As the women manage their small loans, they also meet with nurses to learn about vaccines and diseases, or bring their children in for dental treatments.
The health services and training are now subsidized by the financial arm of Pro Mujer, Guillen said.
With help from PATH and Global Partnerships, there is the hope Pro Mujer can create a model for the health component to be self-sustaining, something that could be replicated anywhere in the world.
Kristi Heim: 206-464-2718 or firstname.lastname@example.org
UPDATE - 09:46 AM
Exxon Mobil wins ruling in Alaska oil spill case
NEW - 7:51 AM
Longview man says he was tortured with hot knife
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.