Authored by: Peter Harlock

After working to improve the lives of children for more than 60 years, World Vision has defined its understanding of child well-being through its Child Well-Being Aspirations. They describe a good life for children, affirming our desire for children to experience life in all its fullness.

The four Child Well-Being Aspirations are that children enjoy good health, are educated for life, are cared for, protected and participating, and experience the love of God and their neighbors.

In 2015, our work touched the lives of 3.9 million children. This is a significant increase from the 3.4 children impacted in 2014. But the social bottom line is: Are they better off? To understand how we are doing we gather and compare information from three different sources:

  • What are our clients telling us about the well-being of their children?
  • What are impact studies telling us?
  • And what is the Progress Out of Poverty data telling us about changes in poverty over time for their parents?

While relying on only one source of data may be unreliable, our confidence increases as different sources confirm the results.


In May of 2013 VisionFund launched a process to begin gathering feedback from clients about benefits their children had experienced. Five questions were added to MFI loan application forms including: Did the previous loan help your children? If yes, what improved?

After several quarters of increasing participation by MFIs, greater client sample sizes and improved data quality, the results are encouraging. As of September 2015, 91% of sampled clients reported at least one child well-being improvement and 50% of clients reported three or more improvements. The graphic below shows the percentage of clients reporting each improvement.

While this particular feedback is solely qualitative and needs ongoing cross-correlation against objective measures of those improvements, we are seeing measurable changes for our adult clients measured with eg PPI) and those clients appear to be telling us that their children are tangibly better off because of their loans.


More than 90% of the loans we offer are to help clients develop a livelihood of some kind that helps contribute towards providing a secure income to them and their family. These loans help parents to build brighter futures for their children. But there’s more that we can do.

In Cambodia, poor sanitation in rural areas is responsible for nearly a fifth of deaths in children under five. World Vision Cambodia trains and supports families to create affordable sanitation as a way to change this reality. VisionFund Cambodia has been able to step in and support this effort alongside World Vision by offering affordable loans for families to purchase latrines and fresh water purifiers. This translates into World Vision donation funding being able to reach many more families.

In the last three years, over 70,000 of these loans have been made, which means thousands of Cambodian children have improved access to clean water and sanitation. Additionally, last year alone, 35,000 new Child Well-Being loans were made throughout Cambodia.

While our core business and agricultural loans help clients secure a reliable income, special loans are designed with their children’s needs in mind. Further examples include education loans, which give more children in Myanmar the chance to attend primary school, and housing loans for parents in Bolivia to build safe living conditions for their children.

To learn more about World Vision’s microfinance work through its network of more than 30 microfinance institutions at VisionFund, please visit:

Developed by VisionFund’s Global Strategy Director; Peter Harlock

Date: March 24, 2016


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