“Before I joined the savings groups I was alone. I used to walk alone in the fields every day and I didn’t belong,” said Jocelyn, a business owner and mother from Rwanda. But since joining a Savings for Life group, Jocelyn has grown into a confident entrepreneur and member of a supportive community of women. Now, she goes to the market each day to sell her vegetables. The money she earns allows her to provide her eight children with medical insurance – and lend to other women who want to break free from poverty. In Rwanda, Savings for Life groups grow out of partnerships with the local church. Church leaders and volunteers create opportunities that help the most vulnerable develop economic stability in their families and communities. As pastors discover their church’s role in addressing the root causes of poverty, they are motivated to invite their most vulnerable neighbors into groups like Jocelyn’s.
Seventy-two percent of Rwanda’s 20,530 Savings for Life members are women, who are especially vulnerable to economic hardship. But in each meeting, women grow in independence and confidence as they accumulate savings and expand their financial knowledge. They encourage and celebrate one another with each new success.
Jocelyn’s first success came when she opened a produce shop with a loan from her savings group. Now that she can sustainably support her children, she is working to pay it back while lending money to others. “When we come together, we pray, then we open the box which has the money…and collect the social fund for loans,” Jocelyn said. The social fund protects the members from the shock of emergency costs. Small grants are given to cover unexpected medical procedures or home repairs.
Women in Savings for Life grow in deep friendship with one another. As they come out of isolation, they are welcomed into compassionate communities. “This savings group has united us because we pull together and solve problems as one group,” Jocelyn said. Today, Jocelyn is empowered to not only support her own family, but the economic growth and welfare of her entire community.
Check back with us throughout January to meet more heroes like Jocelyn. They’re leading their families and neighbors in the work of justice in some of the most vulnerable countries on earth. You can join the movement today at EmpowerAHero.org!