Whether they are refugees forced to leave their lives abruptly behind or locals trying to rebuild their lives after two decades of civil war, most women in our programs are starting over with no money at all. With no banks where they live and little access to capital, they rely on informal community networks for their finance needs, often via a joint revolving fund that allows them to save money as part of a group and borrow from the communal pot. However, the amounts involved are typically too small to be truly impactful, keeping women in a cycle of poverty.
Learn basic business skills
Access microfinance capital
Save money to reinvest in business
Through long-term mentorship, we provide women with the basic record-keeping and business skills training they need to become financially literate and secure. We also provide grants to local women’s savings collectives that allow them to scale up their revolving funds. This extra capital allows women to invest in better regenerative practices on their existing farmland, increasing crop yields, and also start entirely new business initiatives. The additional income generated enables women to pay school fees, invest in livestock, build savings, and support other small businesses, growing the local economy.
AWR’s Microfinance program is based on a proven community-level approach known as the Village Savings and Loan methodology. Self-managed groups of 15 to 30 people meet once a week to deposit their savings, take out loans, learn new skills, and support each other. Savings are kept in a communal safe equipped with three locks whose keys are held by three different women, and its location is kept secret to reduce theft. AWR community mobilizers provide each group with technical support and mentoring over a three-year period. For groups that have demonstrated an ability to sustain savings, AWR provides a $250 USD grant, increasing the amount available for members to borrow. Instead of being constrained by loans of just a few dollars, women are able to access $20-75 USD at once – much more substantial sums which increases the amount of business they can conduct, boosting profits. These loans are then returned with interest at a rate decided upon collectively.