The Savings Group
One of the most successful programs at DuHope has been the savings group program. Initially, the women in the cohort were not able to save money, despite receiving a steady income from DuHope. To better understand the issue, DuHope sat down with the women and discussed the challenges the are facing, their budget needs, and how DuHope can help them save. Following the discussions they found that, when the women kept their income on Mobile Money, they tended to spend all of it instead of save it for emergencies. This meant that the women would ask staff at DuHope to help them when emergencies would arise.
To tackle the issue, DuHope management brought in workers from local banks where they offer discounts for women and good saving systems to train the women in the cohort on savings, loans, and keeping a bank account. Following the training, the women understood the importance of opening bank accounts, but were still not comfortable saving money on their own and opening accounts as individuals. As a workaround, the women began a collective savings group.
The savings group began on August 22nd 2019 and since then the women have been able to save a total of 1,300,000rwf ($1,300). Each week, the women save 3,000rwf ($3) from their income. Across the 11 cohort members, this means that they save 132,000rwf ($132) every month as a group. The money is deposited into the bank by a group of cohort members, who were selected to be the account signatories. Just like a bank, the cohort charges interest when a member of the cohort borrows money. The fund is available for cohort members to use if they run into an emergency, so that they can keep their income for budgeted expenses. The fund is also for cohort members who want to start their own business.
Due to Covid-19 related lockdowns and income loss, the women have faced difficulties saving money and have needed to borrow from the saving group more often. The income dip caused by Covid-19 lockdown has limited the amount that the women can save; however, they are on track to begin saving again this month.