Browse by Theme: Financial Inclusion

For 27 years CARE has worked with communities to support Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) so that women living in poverty can save, invest and improve their lives. Our new Global Reach report shows astounding progress in the global spread and impact of these community-based financial solutions. Today 6.7 million people across 46 countries are saving and managing more than US$433 million per year through CARE VSLAs. Ahead of the SEEP Network SG2018 global savings group conference in Rwanda this week, this success prompts the question: ‘‘how many more women and girls could benefit from participating in a VSLA?”

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In Mali, the government is planning to give money to Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs). Why? Because the Malian government recognises that savings groups are a key step towards women’s empowerment. Ahead of the SG2018 Power of Savings Groups conference in Rwanda this month, here’s what we’ve learned about the power of savings groups from Women on the Move - CARE's strategy for economically empowering 8 million women in West Africa by 2020 that starts with, and builds from, savings groups.

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Last week the World Bank’s much anticipated 2017 Global Findex database and accompanying report was released, revealing who has a bank account with a financial institution or mobile money service and how they’re using it. While great gains have been made in overall account ownership, we should be cautious about celebrating just yet. Women continue to lag behind men on almost all the financial inclusion markers and that’s a major shortcoming.

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Together with a colleague, Professor Malcolm Harper, I recently spent 18 months researching and editing a book on Islamic microfinance – which is defined as Shari’ah compliant financial services for poor people. Here are some of the key findings.

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Do you know where chocolate comes from? Do you wonder who produced the cocoa in your chocolate and under what circumstances? Do you care if the chocolate you buy is sourced in a responsible way, with equal access and opportunity for women?

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The Decade of African Women – launched in 2010 by the African Union – has seen significant strides made by African countries to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment. Notable within West Africa has been the drive towards women’s economic empowerment.

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The number of women in the world who still lack access to formal financial services stands at 1 billion. While this figure is going down, the discrimination that women face compared to men, in terms of their access to and control over loans, savings and bank account services, continue to hold women back. If we are to see this 1 billion figure drop down to zero, then private sector organisations, governments and civil society organisations must work together to tackle the barriers slowing up progress, and invest in solutions to target women’s equal inclusion in the formal financial arena.

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