How a Savings Group Saved a Family
Rokeya and her husband tried to make ends meet, but there was never enough to go around. Not enough money. Not enough food. No clean water to drink. Not enough patience with each other.
When desperation led Rokeya to join a savings group, she learned to read and count. Through complementary programs, she learned about health and sanitation, her legal rights and that she and her children had value.
Since trust is vital for savings groups, they select members carefully, usually seven to 10 people. They vote for a president, secretary, treasurer and one or two money counters, or cashiers.
Each member of Rokeya’s savings group deposited 10 taka (roughly 12 U.S. cents) each week into a cashbox with multiple locks. Different members took home a key to maintain accountability and transparency. At the end of a year, groups like Rokeya’s clear out their books, and each person receives the amount they saved plus a portion of interest the group made on the loans. Then they start over for the next year.
Loans usually aren’t available to people like Rokeya through banks. But her savings group gave her a small loan to buy a cow.
Through FH, Rokeya and her husband learned how to care for the cow, and they soon paid back the loan – with interest. Their micro-business now contains four cows, and they sell the milk to pay for their family’s expenses.
Other group members take loans to start micro-businesses or for major life events, such as weddings, medical expenses or a funeral. The group also maintains a social fund from the interest as loans are repaid. These can be distributed as no-interest loans to members who experience an emergency.
Rokeya said she is grateful for the many ways her family has benefitted from the savings group and complementary programs and teachings.
“I have installed tube well and built a toilet,” Rokeya said. “We are drinking clear water. After receiving the training on cow fattening, I can meet basic needs of my family.” Her children can now attend school, and they work together for the good of the family. “We are thankful to FH.”