Interesting news: we just heard that our Saving for Change program has broken the 250,000 participant barrier. According to the message we just got from our VP John Ambler, Saving for Change now has “more than 250,000 members, and operates in more than 6,000 villages on three continents.” This makes Saving for Change one of Oxfam America’s largest non-humanitarian programs.
Ambler says Saving for Change is unique for a few different reasons. One is that most microfinance programs would need eight years to amass 10,000 borrowers, yet this program reached a quarter million in three years. The other interesting aspect of Saving for Change Ambler points out is that many of the savings groups start themselves. “We have learned a lot from this spontaneous replication, as villagers doing it on their own have stripped away elements of the training they felt were superfluous. Those lessons have helped us cut costs as the program has evolved.”
I’ve written a few posts about this program recently so you can see some of those for what the groups in Mali do, how they invest and make money with the loans they get from groups, and what the group members have to say about their businesses.
But when I look back on the Saving for Change group meetings I have attended in the past in Mali, first in 2006 and then again this year, I have to say I love the solidarity, the way the women sing and dance together, and support each other.
And they are doing it all with their own money. We anticipate it will take another two years to reach the next quarter million.