By Chris Horst, Vice President of Development
If you attended a HOPE event in the fall, you likely heard us describe the 950,000 men and women HOPE and our partners serve around the world. Yet, when you read our 2017 annual report, you’ll see we report serving 838,000 people at the end of 2017. While we have adjusted our numbers substantially, we did not technically lose these clients. We made this change because we believe in reporting field data with the highest levels of integrity, even if it means reporting unfavorable news.
In late 2016, HOPE purchased a larger share of Urwego Bank in Rwanda, making HOPE the majority owner of Rwanda’s largest microfinance institution. With over 300,000 clients at the time of that share purchase, Urwego comprised a substantial percentage of the total number of clients the HOPE network serves around the world. However, over 120,000 of Urwego’s clients no longer qualify by our standards as “active clients,” though they did at the time of the share purchase. By HOPE’s standards, an active client has used HOPE’s lending, savings, or insurance products in the last 24 months.
The majority of these clients hold very small savings accounts—less than $2 in most cases—through a partnership Urwego built in 2015 with a large Rwandan mobile phone carrier. When individuals signed up for a mobile account, they were auto-enrolled in a savings account. Most of these accounts, though, have remained dormant, and HOPE made the decision in late 2017 to exclude these accountholders in our total client number. Moving forward, we will no longer include these clients in our reporting, and we have revised our 2015 and 2016 client numbers to reflect this downward adjustment.
We share this information to assure our supporters that while our numbers may look smaller, our mission has not changed. We remain committed to serving families living in poverty, and we desire to communicate with supporters as accurately and transparently as possible.
Celebrate the remarkable men and women served in the HOPE International network and the work accomplished to invest in the dreams of families. Read our 2017 annual report!