Traditional Banking works in stable economies and has built great economies and great nations. It is the mainstream offering tailored toward the employed and those who generally find themselves formally engaged – therein lies its inherent weakness as access to money is easiest for those who need it least. A safety net already exists for those who least require financial assistance as their background, education and life-chances constitute a guaranteed safety net.
For those who are most exposed to the rough and tumble of life and for whom a minor shock constitutes a financial crisis, access to money is almost impossible as the misunderstood informal sector has no pricing mechanism which adequately caters for the perceived and insurmountable inherent risks. The gap created, is where the founders of VIRL sought to operate especially because this gap impacts mostly women and the youth, the former having been historically marginalised and the latter, more recently excluded.
Having identified the need within this segment of the population, VIRL is the Founders’ means of redressing the balance while channelling funding to where it is most needed – women and youth led economic activity with a rural agro focus. The need is great, far greater than VIRL can satisfy but with the support from like-minded institutions and investors great strides have been made to support sustainable microenterprises while focusing on the agriculture value chain.
“It is a rare privilege to see how much a life can change with even the smallest amount of investment and belief in the entrepreneurial spirit of the Zimbabwean individual”
– Virginia Sibanda, CEO – VIRL Rural & Social Financial Services