A Little Savings, Saves Many

MinotiRani-2Did you ever think that an individual’s effort to save as little as 15 cents per week could revolutionize a community? That’s what’s happening in Bangladesh, through the Kornofuli  savings group that Food for the Hungry (FH) sponsors.

According to the World Bank, 2.5 billion people worldwide do not have a bank account. As a bad risk for loans, emergencies send many illiterate and impoverished people to loan sharks who charge as much as 100 percent interest.

Families often end up selling their meager possessions to pay off the emergency loans. The cycle continues, keeping the families locked in generations of back-breaking poverty.

That’s why savings groups are so important. They function like a credit union. Members deposit their savings and can take out small, short-term loans. The group provides discipline and accountability to help each other save and thrive.

Minoti Rani is one of about 15,000 women who joined the Kornofuli savings group, where she saved money and also learned to read, about law, health and nutrition as a result. The average deposit by individuals in this group is about 15 cents each week.

The group has been functioning for a few years and, as of January 2014, saved a whopping $559,371. Around 35 percent of money is held in various bank accounts. Another 65 percent is dispersed through revolving loans among the members. The default rate is less than 5 percent.

As a day laborer, Minoti’s husband could barely feed the family of five on his income. With her children struggling, she decided to plant a vegetable garden.

She borrowed 2000 taka (about $25) from the savings group to buy seeds, fertilizer and tools. FH taught her how to grow and prepare healthy, nutritious vegetables in the difficult coastal environment where she lives.

She also learned reading, writing and arithmetic, and about legal matters to protect herself and her family. FH taught biblically-based principles about money and household management. Minoti learned to think differently of herself and her economic future.

Before long, her children were healthier, and Minoti had vegetables to sell at the marketplace. She now makes 700 taka (around $10) per week, which she invests in her children’s educations.

“My future plan is to make the garden bigger and make more profit, so I can provide my children proper education and a better future,” Minoti said.

Be a part of FH’s work to bring savings groups to more people like Minoti across the globe – and help us end poverty!