Curiosity Collective: Evidence of social changes for women in savings groups

CARE has been working with Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA) since we first launched the model in Niger in 1991. Over the years, VSLAs have reached more 7.6 million members, 81% of them women. The economic impacts of the VSLA groups are well documented. Less formally documented is the impact that VSLAs have on women themselves and on the social fabric of their communities.

Women often point to increases in self-confidence, independence, and a greater belief in their own ability to change things in their lives, as the VSLA impacts that are most important to them. Recognizing that the evidence around women’s increased self-confidence and solidarity to act is less systematically documented than the economic impact, in 2018 CARE’s West Africa regional team embarked on the Curiosity Collective, a review of more than 48 evaluations across CARE since 2010 that shed light on how women use the VSLA model to increase their human and social capital, in addition to their incomes. A combination of quantitative and qualitative evidence shows how VSLAs are transformative well beyond the act of saving and the ability to increase credit and incomes.

  • Countries: Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Cote D'Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Togo
  • Co-authors: Emily Janoch, Kassie McIlvaine
  • Published: November 2019

Related Publications

Beyond economic empowerment: The influence of savings groups on women's public participation in fragile and (post) conflict-affected settings

Research shows that in addition to improving income and access to savings, women’s participation in savings groups also improves their confidence, skills and ability to influence household decision-making. This prompts the question: do these... Read more...


Opening open government: Women’s rights organisations and the Open Government Partnership in the Philippines

This research was funded by the Feminist Open Government Initiative, which uses research and action to encourage governments and civil society to champion initiatives leading to gender advancements in and through open government. This includes... Read more...


Gender-based violence and COVID-19: The complexities of responding to ‘the shadow pandemic’

This CARE policy brief explores the unique factors of the COVID-19 pandemic that increase the risk of gender-based violence for girls and women, particularly in crisis-affected settings. The brief considers the implications for humanitarian and... Read more...


Transforming leadership, challenging injustice: CARE’s approach to achieving women’s equal voice and leadership in public life and decision-making

Women’s marginalisation in public life and under-representation in decision-making and leadership perpetuates gender injustice. Supporting women to have a say in decisions that affect their lives is a strategy for achieving equitable and... Read more...


A rapid gender analysis of the August 2020 Beirut explosion

On August 4 2020, the devastating Beirut explosion shook the whole city to its core, taking the lives of 191 persons (120 males, 58 females, and 13 unspecified), wounding at least 6,500, and leaving 300,000 people displaced. The impact of the... Read more...


Girl-driven change: Meeting the needs of adolesent girls during COVID-19 and beyond

As a result of the circumstances brought on by COVID-19, adolescent girls face myriad risks — ranging from an increased likelihood of exposure to violence and early marriage, to learning, health and economic losses. This report draws upon... Read more...


She Told Us So: Filling the Data Gap to Build Back Equal

This in-depth research report reveals differing perspectives between women and men when it comes to the challenges associated with the COVID-19... Read more...


Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy: Submission by CARE International UK

The UK government’s Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy is intended to help define the government’s vision for the UK’s role in the world over the next decade. CARE International UK made this submission... Read more...