Alleviating poverty through microfinance
In sub-Saharan Africa, 550 million people live on less than $2 a day.
In 1991, CARE introduced savings-led microfinance programs in Africa, with the first program implemented in Niger. This reached more than one million households. Twenty years later, savings-led microfinance is recognised as the most effective way of reaching and financially empowering rural households in Africa.
CARE launched Access Africa, a women-focused village savings and loans program in June 2008. This ten-year program aims to break the cycle of poverty and transform it into a cycle of rising income, improved health, better education and greater participation in communities and nations.
Since commencing this program, CARE has reached more than two million additional households, generating $33.5 million in assets for poor households.
CARE knows from experience that a women’s focused savings-led approach also gives women and girls vital financial skills to build their businesses. With improved financial security, other areas of women’s lives invariably improve: they can afford prenatal care, to purchase uniforms for their children and are more likely to play a leadership role in their communities.
An increased net worth also enables women and their families to become resilient in times of need.
The collective effects of these programs repeatedly demonstrate that empowered, financially literate women and girls are one of the most powerful forces in the fight against poverty.
Through the support of new donors, CARE Australia will provide over 30 million people – 70 percent of them women – the power of financial services. With the entire household benefitting from these services, that means the program will help 150 million people.
Access Africa is a ten-year investment that will provide an infrastructure to help lift the world’s poorest people out of poverty.
Financial empowerment for women
A microfinance program focused on women is an astute financial and social strategy. Women have proven time and time again that they are credit worthy and invariably make sound investment choices.
Small investments made by women often yield significant benefits in terms of family wellbeing because that is where women invest their earnings. Empowered with financial literacy skills, women can become advocates for social change and community development.
CARE’s twenty years of experience proves that access to financial services for women has far-reaching benefits to families and communities. Economically empowered women have enhanced land and property rights, better job opportunities, improved wages and healthier families.
How CARE Village Savings and Loan groups have transformed lives
'Driving Miss Alice'
Alice Ronald Phiri dreams of owning a car.
‘I am fascinated by cars and I am so happy when I am riding in one that I want one of my own. I don’t know how much they cost, but I will try to buy one.’
A group of women sitting around Alice nod enthusiastically and smile with encouragement. They are part of a CARE Village Savings and Loan (VS&L) group in Malawi that began in 2004. Each week the women attend a meeting and contribute a small amount of their savings to a fund from which they can eventually borrow. Read more
As the treasurer of her village's small savings and loans group, Elitina has earned enough money from her crops to feed her whole family. And send her grandchildren to school.
As treasurer, Elitina is responsible for managing the small cash investments contributed by each member of the savings and loans group in their weekly meetings. As the fund grows with interest from repaid loans, the group members all begin to make money. Read more