Imagine you are a woman living in a developing country with little or no industry, where private sector jobs are extraordinarily rare. You have no assets. No bank will give you credit because you are too poor and you can neither read nor write because you never went to school. How can you feed your family?
One solution is to become a member of CARE’s Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA). We would show you how to efficiently save and invest small amounts of money. We train you to improve basic business and marketing skills. At the end, you will become successful entrepreneur, you will earn an income to buy nutritious food for your children, you can send them to school and buy clothes for your sons and daughters. Your husband will start to respect you, because you contribute to your family’s well-being.
When women earn, everyone benefits. This was CARE’s guiding vision when we launched our successful VSLAs in Niger in 1991. We harnessed an ancient African practice of group savings, in which community members pooled together their resources to create a kind of village bank. For the first time, women earned their own incomes. They saved assets to prepare for times of hardship, such as droughts.
This model behavior is growing and its female entrepreneurs are gaining a sense of ownership, confidence, and empowerment. CARE’s Village Savings and Loans Associations now thrive in 24 countries, reaching over three million people in vulnerable communities. Today, we train several local and international aid organizations to replicate the successful VSLA model.