Opportunity’s microfinance partners have introduced new initiatives in response to coronavirus and to support families living in poverty during this time.
Oneh, a health leader in Indonesia, demonstrates good handwashing techniques. Photo: supplied by an Opportunity partner
In India, tough lockdown measures introduced in March to limit the spread of the virus caused a significant loss in families’ income due to the closure of businesses. In response, loan repayment terms were extended for clients who were struggling to meet their repayments and in some cases emergency loans were introduced to help clients restart their businesses. Partners also distributed masks, sanitiser and soap to clients who were in need during the lockdown.
For example, our partner, Satya Microfinance had, up until 30 June, distributed:
- Food and health kits to 2,400 families
- Protective gear and protective kits, including 20,000 masks and gloves, to villagers
- Health kits with masks, hand wash, soap and sanitiser, to the families of their 1,500 employees
- Meals for migrants’ program, feeding 400,000 displaced migrant labourers and their families as they travelled back to their homelands
- Information through a 24/7 toll free medical help line with both information and health consultations. Seventy thousand people accessed this service in the three months it operated to 30 June
And whilst this is just one partners’ response, it is indicative of both the scale and types of assistance each of our partners have materialised to their clients and the communities they serve.
With many districts still in or reimplementing red level lockdown as local infection rates spike, operations continue to be far from ‘normal’. As such it is difficult to get an accurate picture across our Indian portfolio. At the time of writing, India was the third country in the world to record more than 2 million cases of coronavirus.
In Indonesia, all of Opportunity’s microfinance partners are providing moratoriums on loan repayments for clients, ranging from a few weeks to three months. Where appropriate, partners have implemented fortnightly rather than weekly repayments for clients who wish to continue their repayments. All partners are working with clients and discussing with them the best way to move forward if their business is struggling or if they are unable to make their repayments. They have also distributed masks, sanitiser and soap to staff and clients to help stop the spread of the virus.
At the start of the pandemic, the Indonesian Government implemented a nationwide stay-at-home order. These restrictions have since been relaxed, despite rising case numbers in Indonesia, a country which is one of the worst hit countries in the South-East Asia region.
Opportunity's work in Indonesia is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).
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