Microfinance entity Access Financial Services has launched a new programme designed to activate the potential of Jamaican families and communities to lift themselves out of poverty.
Dubbed Access-Ability, the programme is the local version of a global initiative called Poverty Stoplight, founded by Fundaci?n Paraguay, that has already been rolled out in more than 40 countries.
Like the Poverty Stoplight, Access-Ability will use a self-evaluation survey tool which incorporates questions across six dimensions, allowing families to define specifics around what it means to ‘not be poor’. Survey participants will assess their status in the key areas of income and education; housing and infrastructure; education and culture; and health and environment among others.
Administered on a tablet, the easy-to-use tool breaks down the key areas into relatable indicators that are illustrated as images representing situations that define extreme poverty (red), poverty (yellow), and non-poverty (green).
“Access-Ability uses the Poverty Stoplight system which puts the power back into the hands of families to assess their own situation and carry out personalised strategies to move them from red and yellow to green. It is our hope that by using this tool, and participating in the process, more Jamaicans will get a clearer picture of what they need to do and get access to the right support to improve their lives,” said Access Financial’s CEO Hugh Campbell.
Beyond its ability to empower families, Access-Ability is already creating a network of stakeholders referred to as ‘Solutions-providers’ to help support the development of families and implement the actions on their individual Life Map which chart the way forward.
“For many of our families who have taken the survey, income is a key deficit, so Access is working with them to see how we can support their entrepreneurial efforts. For others, it’s education so we’ve engaged with HEART and the Ministry of Education to see how best to create easier access to what they need. In fact, we’ve invited several government and private sector organisations to join this collaborative effort to move our people forward on their own terms,” Campbell added.
Social organisations, community and faith-based groups that are also interested in collaborating for the common goal of poverty elimination may also join the programme to provide support. The rich data collected through the surveys may provide inestimable value to planning agencies and other organisations that execute social programmes.
Access-Ability is the latest initiative of Access Financial Services Limited, a leader in the local microfinance sector. Listed on the Jamaica Stock Exchange and with 17 locations across the island, the company has a reputation for customer-focused innovation and a track record of growth.