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Empowering women through savings

Nizam with her children

Five months ago, 12 women came together to establish a Village Savings and Loans group. Determined to change their lives, they embarked on a program of training, and then took charge of their finances and started to save, pool and lend their money.

People living on less than $1 a day generally do not believe that they can grow their money, and they almost never have access to basic financial services to help them do it. But self-managed savings and loans groups provide this opportunity.

By depositing a little bit every week, members start to build their savings while contributing to a growing pool of funds available for lending. Members can then take out small loans at a reasonable rate of interest when needed for things like school fees for their children. Or they can borrow to finance income-generating ventures, like poultry production or market stalls, giving them an opportunity to raise their incomes and standard of living.

Nizam knows all about opportunity as one of the women in the new Savings and Loans group. With training provided with your support, Nizam developed new skills in vegetable growing and now has a garden filled with cabbages and onions almost ready for sale in the nearby market. Proud of her accomplishments, Nizam speaks excitedly about the group's plan to save enough to start a local grinding mill in the future.

Multiply this by the 600 women involved in the Village Savings and Loans groups in Jimma, and you begin to see the tremendous impact that a small investment in women can make – and not just for them, but for their children, families, and communities.

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