Village Savings and Loan Associations
The need for comprehensive, well-tailored financial services for women starts at the most local level. One
innovative model that is well suited to local women is the Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs).
Introduced by CARE in Niger in 1991, VSLAs target women living in poor, often rural communities with little or no access to financial institutions. Savings is a first step to financial security, and the next step is low-cost loans. After years of engaging in weekly savings and loans and gaining financial literacy and confidence, the VSLAs integrate more formal institutional engagement, such as official bank accounts and credit. Overall, the model has demonstrated consistent positive results increasing women’s access to financial tools and income, as well as improving individual and household welfare, such as nutrition, access to health services, and quality of housing. Another model that works with women at various levels is BRAC, one of the world’s largest international development organizations. Founded in Bangladesh, BRAC created multiple intervention points for women and men to move from extreme poverty, to poverty, to self-sufficiency. Multiple organizations around the world have now used and adapted BRAC’s model.