Women Empowered (WE) Savings Groups
BFI, in partnership with the San Diego based non-profit organization Project Concern International (PCI), launched PCI’s Women Empowered (WE) Savings Groups in Burundi in April of 2018.
WE is a two-year project encouraging women and youth to save money, learn financial planning, and become leaders in their communities. WE groups begin with 20-25 women coming together to support and build one another up. Weekly, each participant contributes to a savings fund. Over time, group members invest in one another with micro-loans. In addition to saving weekly, women learn skills like problem-solving and action planning that they use to make positive changes in their households and communities. BFI in-country staff ensures a safe environment, teaches programming, provides accountability, and encourages the social connection of each group.
In 2018, we started with 12 pilot WE groups in the provinces of Gitega, Bubanza, Ngozi, and Kayanza. By October 2019, these groups had saved $10,074 with a 35.6% return on savings!
In 2019, thanks to a Rotary Global Grant of $58,350, we added an additional 48 WE groups in the Gitega region for a total of 1,330 members reached. As of May 2020, these groups had saved over $40,000 and increased their return on savings to 44%!
In the next two years, BFI will continue expanding this program in an effort to provide more than 2,000 Burundians with the training that enables them to launch businesses, build up their communities, and be on the road to economic stability.
Beyond English, our students are venturing into the next step by creating small businesses. By forming small savings groups of 20-25 individuals (G20’s), each group pools money toward a common goal. With as little as $70, these groups focus on short term goals in breeding, farming, trading, or craft traits. The financial results from these smaller projects then enable longer term goals in these areas.
Currently, we have over 1075 G20 groups throughout Burundi. It’s not all about money, the groups help create UNITY too. What’s their motto? Together We Can!