Women’s Saving Circles in Pacutama, Chuicutuma, and Cajola
This year began a new program with our women’s weaving cooperatives- financial literacy training and the formation of savings circles. We are extremely grateful to Catholic Relief Services for sharing their savings circles methodology to train our groups of women in this process.
The two groups are formed of 20-25 women each who meet weekly or monthly to collectively save part of their earnings for a whole year. The interesting part of this process is that the women lend out the money they have saved in small loans to members of the group each month. The group creates the rules for members and collectively decides on interest rates for these loans collectively. Throughout the year, they are able to grow their savings with this interest, which is shared amongst all at the end of the yearly cycle. Each meeting they also contribute a small donation that is saved for an emergency fund to support members in case of emergencies such as illnesses, family deaths, or other disasters.
These savings groups provide a number of incredible benefits:
- Creating a system and environment of saving
- Giving women access to small loans, something which is very hard for them to access in the traditional banking system
- Keeping the interest earnings on loans within the community in order to benefit the same women (as oppossed to benefiting third party lenders)
- Financial literacy education! Most women in these groups have very little education and even less understanding of systems of accounting, financial institutions, and the concept of investment and growing capitol- something which they are all becoming experts in through these groups!
- Practicing collective decision-making and transparency; and witnessing their power when they work as a group as opposed to as individuals in order to create economic opportunities for each other
It was so inspiring to see these three groups in action and empowered to create opportunities for the future. Sustainable jobs and businesses are the building blocks of economic independence and these financial tools help create community-centered growth and entreprenuership. We’re looking towards a future where these communities can, not only survive, but actually thrive!