Our Impact

Proof of Impact

The IMAGE Project was rigorously evaluated from 2001 to 2005 as a cluster randomised trial and the study and results were published in the renowned, peer-reviewed medical journal, The Lancet amongst others. In the study, villages receiving the full intervention package (microfinance + IMAGE) were compared with a similar number of comparison villages (no intervention). After two years, relative to matched controls, IMAGE participants showed improvements in the following:

The evaluation also found that IMAGE loan centres can become a hub for community mobilisation. Participants successfully engaged with the broader community around a range of activities:

  • Public marches to raise awareness around issues of rape, intimate partner violence, and HIV/AIDS
  • Better access to antiretroviral therapies (ARVs) and supply of female condoms
  • Meetings with local leaders
  • Organising village workshops
  • Creating village committees to target crime and rape.

Participants also worked with formal institutions such as police stations and hospitals to demand better services to serve and protect the rights of women and girls within the community.

Client Stories

In 2020, a report was written on IMAGE participants’ personal experiences of the Sisters for Life programme. Nearly all the respondents were black, poor rural women. Participants expressed that being financially independent gave them a sense of personal pride, especially since they were previously economically dependent on men and their role had been restricted to housekeepers and mothers for most of their lives. A participant named Patricia explained,

It makes one have pride. To be proud of being a Woman of today. Because in the past, women would cook for the man, wash for the children, and bathe the children. That was your job. But right now, at least we have the opportunity to run your business and sell whatever you are selling – move forward and improve your life. A woman’s life is not only in the home. but it’s also everywhere.

Many of the respondents also agreed that their lives had improved since joining the SFL programme, and one participant said

Last time, he ended up saying things that did sit well with me, I showed him that, “This is not right, because you are abusing me [when] you make these threats”, I sat him down and told him, “If you have a problem, sit down with me and tell me what you like and what you don’t like.” Right now, we live happily together, He no longer has that thing of using harsh words towards me.

A few women successfully spoke with their male partners to address abuse. For example, a 29 year old, single mother who had been experiencing emotional abuse by her partner, reportedly engaged him on his abusive behaviour:

I can see that the poverty and stress I was living under has gone down. 

Others claimed that their insights about leadership were enhanced through the IMAGE programme, as Dorcus expressed that,

SFL has taught me that we are all leaders. I realised that there is nothing impossible, everything is possible and here I am [as treasurer]

During a more recent session on domestic violence in late 2021, a client emotionally revealed to her centre that she was HIV positive and had been experiencing stigmatisation by family members and intimate partner violence as well.

After learning about the different forms of abuse from IMAGE, she was able to recognise that she was not only suffering from physical abuse but also financial and emotional abuse from her partner.

She explained that her daughter witnessed their arguments and often even had to serve as mediator.

After receiving a one-on-one psychosocial support visit from her IMAGE trainer, she began to see the impact that the abuse was having on her health and on her child’s life.

This client has since left the relationship and has begun counselling with a local social worker, referred by IMAGE staff. She also reports that her ex-partner is also seeking help so he can form healthier relationships in future. SEF has been successful in the microfinance sector for over 30 years.

We understand the complexities that underlie poverty and the structural drivers that perpetuate the cycle.

This understanding underpins our success and is why we are committed to taking a multi-dimensional and holistic approach to poverty alleviation – by not only empowering women economically through the provision of financial products and services, but also socially, by providing the IMAGE programme. Studies show that the IMAGE Project works, that clients value the programme, and that it has positive impact on their personal lives and communities.


European Microfinance 

Award (2022)

The project has received the Gold Medal for excellence in Corporate Social Investment by the American Chamber of Commerce in

IMAGE Project received Prestigious International Woman Day Award. – Washington D.C. 04 March 2009

Gold for Corporate Social Investment Excellence with IMAGE