In 2013, CongoVoice partnered with Christine Buettgen, program manager for Economic Development in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Christine desired to execute a micro loan model that was started by Oxfam America. The micro finance model called Saving for Change helps predominantly women in rural areas with no access to financial institutions.
The model is simple yet very effective.
There is an established trainer who is a local villager. The trainer manages a group of about 20 women. These women all desire to be part of a saving and lending circle to help them with their own business. All members contribute from a few cents to 50 cents a week. When a member needs a loan, the group decides whether or not to approve the loan, what interest rate will be charged and the payment terms. Most loans range from a few dollars to $50 .
These small loans have dramatic positive impact on the women, their families and communities. Saving for Change is a safe and convenient alternative for communities to save and borrow money. What makes it sustainable is the fact that the loans are distributed out from the local economic community and economic gains remain in those communities. The groups are managed by the people themselves empowering communities. Since the community members are all contributing to the pot there is a high accountability factor resulting in the repayment of every loan on time.
With financial support from CongoVoice and partnering with World Vision, Christine was able to launch this program in the Ubangi region. Measuring the program’s efficacy will take a few years. Oxfam America has reported that since this program was started in 2009, over 680,000 people, mainly women have become members. Savings for Change has spread into 13 countries and virtually no groups have failed.
Christine helped manage the local Congolese trainers who over see groups of 20 to 25 women. Below are some of the trainers receiving their certificates of achievement and Christine with World Vision staff who partnered in this effort to support Saving for Change. With these new financial institutions, women in the poorest world region and in a country ranked the worst for women to live are now empowered entrepreneurs and changing their role in their community.
Watch how the Oxfam America Savings for Change model has been implemented and yielding successful results in other impoverished countries:
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