Curiosity Collective: Evidence of Social Changes for Women in Savings Groups
CARE has been working with Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA) since it first launched the model in Niger in 1991. Over the years, VSLAs have reached 7.6 million members to form 357,000 groups in 51 countries. 81 percent of these members are women. The economic impacts of the groups are well-documented. Women and men in VSLA groups save an estimated $400 to $700 million each year. In West Africa, 3.2 million women participate in VSLAs. The savings and credit can be transformational, helping women start businesses, pay school fees and access emergency loans when they have a crisis in the family.
A randomized controlled trial of VSLAs conducted by Innovations for Poverty Action, showed that VSLAs substantially increased women’s access to financial services, income and ability to start businesses. Perhaps more important, but less formally documented, is the impact that VSLAs have on women themselves and the social fabric of their communities. Anecdotally, women themselves often point to increases in self-confidence, independence and a greater belief in their own ability to change things in their lives, as the VSLA impacts that are most important to them.