Australian Government partnership with World Vision to help 2000 small businesses overcome the "missing middle"


A new World Vision program which will bridge the loan gap for struggling strong-potential businesses in Myanmar and Ghana has received an Australian Government grant of $4 million over three years.

The VisionFund International  project will trial an innovative approach to address problems faced by the “missing middle” businesses – those which have outgrown microfinance, but are still considered too high-risk to access bank loans.

The partnership with the Federal Government’s Innovation Xchange and Aid for Trade will give coaching, technical and loan support to 2000 small and growing businesses with potential and ambition to grow. Half of the recipients will be woman entrepreneurs.

The pilot has a strong focus on women’s economic empowerment. It will support the growth of female entrepreneurs in Myanmar and Ghana.

World Vision Australia chief executive Claire Rogers welcomed the news of the $4 million grant yesterday and said success with this pilot would contribute to reducing poverty in the Asia Pacific by encouraging economic growth.

 “Investing in small businesses generates both employment and marketing opportunities for surrounding vulnerable community members, particularly women,” Ms Rogers said.

“Women and children are among the most vulnerable in countries with high levels of poverty and fragile economies. Women entrepreneurs face extra hurdles compared to men. This program will help them to build a sustainable livelihood for themselves, their employees, their families and local communities.

VisionFund expects the three-year grant will contribute to the creation of 6500 new jobs and sustaining another 6500 and enables Vision Fund to leverage further private capital to impact beyond the life of the grant.

Word Vision Australia and VisionFund started testing the link between poverty reduction and supporting small and growing businesses by loaning larger sums – between $3500 and $25,000 – and giving business coaching in Sri Lanka in 2015. They found that helping the businesses they reached gave exponential return in terms of financial and social impact.

For more information or an interview with Claire Rogers, please contact World Vision Australia senior media officer Ruth Lamperd: 0417 765 947 or


Photo: A year after Cho opened a childcare centre in Yangon, Myanmar, she accessed a series of small loans through VisionFund International to continue to grow her business. Today, Cho employs 11 staff and provides care for almost 400 children.

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