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CARE: Celebrating 30 years of VSLA (Village Savings and Loan Associations)

Since 1991, the Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) has served as CARE’s marquee savings and lending program, helping unbanked women gain access to basic financial support and services. Thirty years after our first savings group of approximately 20 met, our VSLA program operates in 54 countries with 13.7 million members strong. Every day, we’re growing closer to our 2030 goal of reaching 62 million people (50 million women). What started as a small group of women in Niger saving and lending money to one another has led to transformative change for millions of women and their families around the world. Annually, VSLA members save and deploy together over $650 million. During the last year, 85% of VSLA members continued to still meet even through the barriers of the COVID-19 pandemic. These groups become pathways for financial access but also platforms for women’s leadership in communities. VSLA members become agents of change – spreading the word about preventing the spread of COVID-19 or advocating to local officials for policy change. I am proud of the program’s proven success and look forward to working alongside these women and our partners to continue scaling up this model. With 800 million unbanked women who still don’t have access to their own resources, limited voice within their families, and no standing in their communities, we know that there is still more work to do. Imagine the change in the world if all women and girls had fair and equitable access to resources, respect, political power, and savings. In Jordan CARE supports 2000 vulnerable women through VSLAs, all affected by conflict, poverty and discrimination. The women receive vocational and business skills trainings for business development. CARE organizes bazars where women can market and promote their products. Also, workshops are being organized for both men and women to increase awareness on the position of women in society, women’s rights and gender-based violence and to promote women enterprise development. This program is part of a worldwide program in 11 countries in which CARE, with support of the H&M Foundation, provide more than 100.000 women in poor communities with access to tools, knowledge, skills training and/or seed capital to start up or to expand their businesses. Women are being trained according to their needs, in sales expertise, general business development skills, and financial literacy.

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