Notes from the President: Girls’ Savings, the Dominican Republic, and Women’s History Month

March 1, 2012

Dear friends,

One of my favorite parts about being the CEO of a global microfinance network is the opportunity to travel the world, visiting WWB network members and observing, first-hand, the impact that access to financial services can have on the lives of women and girls. I recently had the pleasure of leading a field visit to Banco ADOPEM in the Dominican Republic with four members of the WWB Board.

dr1While in the Dominican Republic we spoke with several Banco ADOPEM clients, both young and old. Undoubtedly, the highlight for me was spending an afternoon with seven girls, from ages eight to seventeen, who are enrolled in Banco ADOPEM’s Mía savings program. Since its inception in January 2010, 10,076 Mía accounts have been opened. The girls talked about why it is important to save, what they plan to do with their savings and their hopes and aspirations. I was struck by Stephani, who at only 11 years  old, is already saving to buy a car so that she can commute to college to pursue her ultimate goal of becoming a doctor. After hearing from the girls and seeing the  success of the Mía product first-hand, I am eager to replicate the product with other WWB network members beginning with PEACE MFI S.CO in Ethiopia.

Banco ADOPEM is a model financial institution whose mission is reflected not only in the way it treats its clients, but also in the way it treats its employees. While in the Dominican Republic I visited several of Banco ADOPEM’s branches. In each of the branches I was able to meet with loan officers to discuss their loan portfolios and their experience as Banco ADOPEM employees. Each loan officer I spoke with felt great pride in being a member of the Banco ADOPEM family and extoled the training and promotion opportunities that Banco ADOPEM provides.   

Several years ago Banco ADOPEM went through the arduous process of changing its legal structure from an NGO to a fully regulated commercial bank. In the years since this transformation the ADOPEM NGO has become a thriving training center offering financial education, vocational and computer courses. The ADOPEM NGO houses all of Banco ADOPEM’s own employee and client training courses, but what I found most impressive is ADOPEM’s role as the trainer for microfinance institutions throughout Latin America. ADOPEM’s leadership team feel strongly that a mission-focused sector that is equipped to best serve its clients is good for all institutions.

dr2Spending time with one of our most innovative network members was a great way to start 2012. With the beginning of March, I am looking forward to Women’s History Month and, in particular, International Women’s Day on March 8th. The profile of International Women’s Day is at an all-time high and I am thrilled that WWB will be contributing to the celebration with a breakfast and panel discussion. We invite you to celebrate with WWB by hosting your own International Women’s Day event using our “Host Your Own” toolkit. Additionally, Inez Murray, Executive Vice President of Programs, will be speaking on several panels in Europe. I hope you will join us in celebrating women’s achievements and economic empowerment next month!  

Warm regards,

Mary Ellen