Recording of Jo Cox Memorial Grants panel discussion and transcript available online

UK Aid Direct hosted a panel discussion on the Jo Cox Memorial grants on Tuesday 27 March.

Focusing on theme 1 – the social, economic and political empowerment of women – representatives of 180 organisations signed in to listen to the discussion which was designed to:

  • debate the key challenges and opportunities that the Jo Cox Memorial grants could try to tackle;
  • to help inform detailed guidance that would be made available to all applicants of the Jo Cox Memorial grants on the UK Aid Direct website

Excerpts from the discussion include:

Theo Sowa – CEO, African Women’s Development Fund (opens in a new window): “I think we can take real pride and encouragement from the work of women’s rights organisations on the ground…”

Musimbi Kanyoro – President and CEO, Global Fund for Women (opens in a new window): “…It does not matter if they’re in the City of London or in a village somewhere in Kenya or a slum in another city… the biggest barrier is the lack of equality of women and men…”

Dr Narmeen Hamid – Strategic Advisor, AmplifyChange (opens in a new window): “…I think in terms of the closing civic space for women’s organisations and how they are coping with it, language is important. So, they are modifying the language they are using…”

Jo Cooke – DFID’s Gender Equality team, who said:
“…Progress on gender priority has actually gone into reverse. That means some of the global rights that women and girls are facing have actually got worse, which I think really challenges most of our assumption that we are on a slow but sure improvement, globally. I think that was a wake up call for a lot of people…”

The panel discussion was moderated by Ben Latto, Head of DFID’s Civil Society Team.

To listen to the full recording of the discussion, visit the UK Aid Direct YouTube channel : and to download the transcript, click here.

Please note: the funding round is currently open and the closing date for submitting concept notes (if applying for a Network grant), or full applications (if applying for a Strengthening grant), is Wednesday 13 June 2018 at 17:00 (GMT).

Priti Patel visits MicroLoan Foundation – a UK Aid Direct grant holder

Secretary of State for International Development, Priti Patel, recently visited MicroLoan Foundation giving them the opportunity to discuss how the Department for International Development (DFID) had helped the organisation to expand its reach and support over 6,000 of the poorest women in Southern Malawi.

Priti Patel with MicroLoan Foundation staff

Project aims

The MicroLoan Foundation’s ‘Pathways from Poverty’ project began in April 2013 and ended in March 2016.

Its aim was to provide 6,300 women living in poverty in rural Malawi with loans and business training, to enable them to set up small businesses and pull themselves and their families out of poverty.
In order to do this, MicroLoan Foundation Malawi employed and trained Loan and Training Officers (LTOs) and provided them with motorbikes to reach remote rural areas where many of the most marginalised and poorest people live. The LTOs’ role was vital in identifying women with entrepreneurial potential and delivering tailored business training to provide them with the knowledge and skills to set up and run their own enterprises.

With the DFID funds, it became possible to hire 8 LTOs, as well as a project officer, and deliver the project from the 7 existing branches in Southern Malawi.


  • the new LTOs enabled MicroLoan Foundation to extend its reach, meaning that 1000’s of impoverished rural women now have improved access to financial services, as well as greater monetary and business literacy
  • a total of 6,409 marginalised women were economically empowered through the provision of loans and business training – over 100 more than initially projected
  • the businesses they have set up have transformed the lives of their families
  • the increase in household income has meant that they can now afford to buy food, send their children to school, and buy life-saving medicines

As well as the immediate increase in household income, the impact of the loans and training is long term. MicroLoan Foundation encouraged clients to save in order to build financial security and resilience. Through training and support, all of the women were able to start doing this. New clients were found to be saving 11% of the loan value, exceeding the target 10%.

The project achieved positive changes in the poverty statuses of its beneficiaries and exceeded the target number of household members who benefitted from the increase in living standards.

– DFID Project Closure Report, 2016

The impact of the loans and training has been felt by many more than just the women themselves.

A total of 37,085 people experienced a reduction in poverty as a result of the ‘Pathways from Poverty’ project.

If you want to read more about the  work of MicroLoan Foundation, visit their website here (opens in a new tab)