In the arid and semi-arid rural areas of eastern Kenya they receive only one third of the rain that falls in a Canadian city like Toronto. Many of the community members are farmers who work on small 1-acre plots of land, and struggle to produce enough to feed their families, and rarely produce enough to sell. Poverty can be overwhelming. Tearfund Canada and our partner Fadhili Trust developed the Village Savings and Loans program to help break the cycle of poverty in rural Kenya. This program is designed for the rural poor, centred on saving rather than lending and is effective in rural areas beyond the reach of any financial institutions. The program builds on existing traditional savings models; providing training to villagers that that provides structure, improves security of assets and increases the income of participants. Fadhili Trust implements the program, by working, with village leaders and hand-in-hand with local churches of multiple denominations, to provide effective, sustainable solutions to poverty within their own local communities at a cost of just $36 per member.
In the last five years,
- Fadhili has mobilized 764 groups with 21,561 members. Of these, 404 groups with 11,643 members have already graduated.
- 90% of the savings groups members are women. Women’s empowerment has been key in this project, as their influence and support on their household and communities has been substantial.
- 11% of members are aged 24 and younger, meaning that the next generation is preparing for their future and is breaking out of the cycle of poverty.
- 55% of savings funds were circulating in the communities as loans and generating additional interest income for members.
- 89% of those in groups started over 5 years ago are still in groups because the benefits are so life changing!