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Microsavings through Village Savings and Loan Associations

A Cambodian woman wearing a bright orange patterned robe smiles while opening a red basket full of cash VSLA contributions.

In 2018, CARE launched a 12-year Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLA) scaling strategy with a goal of supporting 50 million women and girls – 65 million people overall – to form Savings Groups by 2030.

Savings Groups are self-managed groups of 15-25 individual members from within a community who meet regularly to save their money in a safe space, access small loans and obtain emergency insurance.

Four years in to the Global VSLA scaling strategy, VSLAs still continue to serve as an effective vehicle for economic justice and long-term resilience. Since 2020, the Women Respond initiative has surveyed over 17,000 women in 23 countries and has indicated that VSLAs not only increase resilience, but also decrease challenges around income, food, and healthcare. VSLAs in Emergencies has shown that when power is returned to even the most vulnerable women, they are able to improve their situation.

Since 1991, CARE has helped 8.4 million people join savings groups

VSLA members experience an average increase in income of 2.75x over five years

As we look ahead to 2030, we believe that scaling VSLAs and supporting VSLA members to pursue their goals can have a substantial impact on the achievement of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. But we recognize that achieving scale demands not only that CARE continues to embed VSLAs in our own work, but also that we work in new ways and with new partners.

In the face of multiple restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, VSLA groups have still found adapted ways to keep their groups running, such as meeting digitally or only having VSLA leaders meet. As a result, 85% of VSLA members are still meeting even after COVID-19.

There are four ways that VSLAs will be formed

Integrate VSLAs as a foundation of CARE's global development programming.
Engage governments as scaling partners, embedding VSLAs in policies, regulations, and programs.
Engage corporations as scaling partners, embedding VSLAs in supply chains and distribution networks.
Adapt VSLAs for humanitarian contexts to promote adoption across agencies.

Highlighted Microsavings Programs

Community Trust

Empowering women microentrepreneurs by creating pathways to economic stability and financial education for BIPOC communities in the United States.

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Pennies to Power

The Pennies to Power program will enable women in savings groups to mobilize an estimated $15 billion each year, create new enterprises and dramatically change women’s ability to work together.

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Digital Sub-Wallets for Increased Financial Empowerment of Women

The Digital Sub-Wallets program aimed for women to have equitable influence over household financial decisions and to use mobile financial technology to improve their opportunities and lives.

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VSLA in Emergencies

This program will ensure that CARE’s cash and voucher assistance and “cash-plus” programming are informed by those who are experiencing crisis in order to meet their immediate needs and transform their lives as the situation stabilizes.

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Women for Change

The Women for Change project empowers female cocoa farmers and women living in cocoa-farming households to increase their participation in community development and in making decisions on business and livelihood management.

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The Indashyikirwa project worked with couples to reduce intimate partner violence and improve the wellbeing of survivors in selected communities in seven districts of Rwanda. It also aimed to strengthen the evidence base for community prevention and response for GBV.

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POWER Africa

Promoting Opportunities for Women’s Economic Empowerment in Rural Africa (POWER Africa) aimed to increase financial inclusion for 480,000 individuals and their families through savings groups, financial education, and linking mature groups to formal financial institutions.

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LINK Up connected 10,000 Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) with formal financial institutions in order to build financial inclusion in Kenya and Tanzania.

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Journeys of Transformation

Journeys of Transformation works with men and boys to support gender equality and women’s social, political, and economic empowerment.

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VSLA Training Manual

CARE wrote this manual for Community-Based Trainers (CBTs) who are responsible for training and mentoring VSLA. The manual's purpose is to provide a standard approach to delivering training and mentoring sessions to VSLA members. It provides instructions for organizing and facilitating the full range of sessions and topics for VSLA members.

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Beyond the Box: FY23 Global VSLA Annual Report

The VSLA FY23 Annual Report offers a brief overview of the impact and power of VSLAs in CARE programming.

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COVID-19 & Women: Saving for Resilience

Between December 2020 and February 2022, CARE conducted interviews with saving group members as part of the Women (in VSLA) Respond sub-initiative. The sub-initiative is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and focuses on how women and girls in VSLAs in Burundi, Ethiopia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Uganda are affected by and responding to the pandemic. This final report represents the voices of 4,185 VSLA members conducted through four quantitative and two qualitative data rounds in the six countries. This final report is a comprehensive analysis of the trends over time, showing the challenges, needs, and actions of VSLA members in the six countries.

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Unlocking Access, Unleashing Potential

Launched in 2018, the VSLA Scaling strategy is a bold initiative to scale CARE’s VSLAs to reach 50 Million women and girls by 2030.

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VSLAs Adapt to COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is spreading, and the situation is changing quickly in many countries around the world. This brief covers what VSLA groups are doing differently to meet the COVID-19 crisis.

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Unlocking Financial Prosperity in Bangladesh through VSLA

The Bangladesh Central Bank issued a policy that formally recognizes VSLA groups. This legitimization is leading to a significant increase in financial access and increased economic power for underprivileged women across Bangladesh. This brief overviews the process of collaboration between CARE and the Bangladesh Central Bank as well as how they will be moving forward.

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