5 Minute Inspiration: What would you do if you had no more money worries?

by 05th Jun 2018
A CARE VSLA lockbox A CARE VSLA lockbox

In Egypt’s VSLAs, the number of women who have worried about money in the last 30 days has been cut nearly in half. Why? Because women are saving $58 a year now—2.7 times more than they used to. They are also able to take out loans, and are more than 6 times more likely to be involved in a business where they make money. 77% say their incomes have gone up.

What do women in Egypt do when they aren’t worried about money? They send their kids to school, build businesses, and get involved in decisions at home and in the community. They feel more confident, and are more likely to solve other kinds of problems in their lives.

Securing Rights and Improving Livelihoods of Women Kadem el-khair was funded by UN Women between 2014 and 2016. It had a total budget of $412,946 and reached 34,284 people. CARE partnered with Assuit Business Women’s Association and the Kurds Association to set up VSLAs in the Beni Suef and Assuit governorates.

What have we accomplished?

  • Women’s incomes went up, and worries went down: 77% of women say their incomes went up, and there was a 42% reduction in the number of women who worried about money in the last 30 days. The number of people who struggled to pay regular bills in the last 30 days was cut in half.
  • Quality of life got better: 84% of women say the number and quality of meals their family can eat went up, and 79% said their children now have more access to education.
  • Women are more involved in decisions: The number of women who were involved in family decisions about finances and education more than doubled. There were 60% more women participating in decisions about health, and 41% more on decisions about food.
  • Women are more confident: Nearly twice as many women feel capable of resolving their own problems as did at the beginning of the project.
  • Women are influencing their communities: the number of women who said they could influence community decisions was 2.4 times greater at the end of the project than at the beginning.
  • There is more credit and savings: women are 7 times more likely to be able to access a loan, and their savings are 2.7 times higher—up to $58. Now they are saving at home and in the VSLA.
  • Businesses got stronger: the number of women using budgets to manage their business went up 61%. The number who keep written records of their business more than doubled. 

How did we get there?

  • Encourage savings and smart borrowing: the project set up VSLAs, and helped women understand how to access credit.  The average loan is $65. At the end of the project, women were 8.4 times more likely to consider the interest rate of a loan, and 9 times more likely to consider the consequences of failing to repay a loan before they borrowed.
  • Train people in business: Women are 6.5 times more likely to be involved in a small business—the most popular ones are grocery stalls and selling chickens. They are using the project business training to set up budgets for their businesses and their households.
  • Help women find independence: 41% of women can make decisions about what to do with their VSLA money and the money from their businesses without anyone else’s permission.  For women, VSLAs have helped them improve their own incomes, and that income improvement leads to all of the other benefits.

Want to learn more?

Read the final evaluation.

Emily Janoch

Emily Janoch is Senior Technical Advisor on Knowledge Management for the CARE USA Food and Nutrition Security team focusing on ways to better learn from and share practical experience on eradicating poverty through empowering women and girls. She focuses on learning from programming and using that learning to improve impact.

With four years of on-the-ground experience in West Africa, 10 years of development experience, and academic publications on community engagement and the human element in food security in Africa, Emily is especially interested in community-led development. She has experience in food security, nutrition, health, governance, and gender programming, and has a BA in International Studies from the University of Chicago, and a Masters' in Public Policy in International and Global Affairs from the Harvard Kennedy School.

Email: ejanoch@care.org