Browse by Theme: Financial Inclusion

We can’t achieve women’s financial inclusion without considering harmful social norms and trying to change them. This was the key message I shared during the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation’s (SDC) annual Savings and Credit Forum in Bern earlier this month. The forum’s theme was ‘how to reach 1 billion women’ and I was there on behalf of CARE International UK and the CGAP Women’s Financial Inclusion Community of Practice to speak about how gendered social norms create barriers to women’s financial inclusion, and how to change them.

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This is the last in a series of blog posts marking Financial Inclusion Week and sharing valuable lessons from our POWER Africa (Promoting Opportunities for Women's Economic Empowerment in Rural Africa) project. As part of POWER Africa, CARE commissioned a study to assess the role that VSLAs play in building the poor’s resilience and ability to cope with economic shocks due to environmental crises and political unrest in Ethiopia and Burundi. Here we look at how VSLAs helped build the resilience of a single mother living in chronic poverty and we pull out four common findings from the study.

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Today, on World Savings Day, we are celebrating the VSLA model by sharing learning from CARE’s POWER Africa (Promoting Opportunities for Women’s Economic Empowerment in Rural Africa) project. In our first blog in this series, we looked at VSLAs as an entry point for financial inclusion, but POWER Africa has shown that VSLAs can also have positive impacts across other areas of CARE’s work. Here we highlight some key lessons on adapting the VSLA model to the needs of adolescent girls.

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To mark Financial Inclusion Week, we are shining a spotlight on CARE’s POWER Africa (Promoting Opportunities for Women’s Economic Empowerment in Rural Africa) project and the impact that savings-led financial inclusion has had on 750,000 people from poor households in rural areas of Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia and Rwanda. The project has produced some rich lessons for practitioners, which we will explore this week in a series of blog posts, starting with the process and impact of linking Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) to formal financial services.

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Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) have been a cornerstone of CARE International’s programmes for over 25 years, and we have plenty of evidence of their ability to impact women’s lives positively. However, we have also learned that gender norms and power dynamics can reduce the impact on women unless we tackle them directly.

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In Sierra Leone, 91% of people are satisfied with the CARE response to Ebola, both in the immediate aftermath and in long-term recovery. It’s what a lot of people call Nexus programming: emergency response that also builds for the long term. In the words of one woman: “This has made us stronger and less worried since we know there is always a place to [get] money when it comes to unforeseen eventuality." Find out more about what we achieved. 

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As previously noted, the House of Commons Select Committee on International Development (IDC) has just published its report on DFID’s economic development strategy. In my earlier blog, I characterised the report as “lacking punch, misunderstanding gender but with some positives”. I want to highlight here one positive (as I see it), yet many of you might see it as a strange positive: DFID appear to be rowing back on the centrality of the ‘Asia model’ to their economic development strategy.

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