Nearly one billion women worldwide do not have bank accounts. This means they do not have access to funds for predictable life events, like sending a child to school, much less emergencies. WomenSave is on a mission to fix that by expanding financial access to women in developing economies with goal-based saving and mobile money. Research shows that when people save for a specific purpose on a regular basis they are more likely to meet their goals. So WomenSave designs individual commitment savings plans, a financial product through which clients regularly set aside small amounts of money until the target amount/date is met. With this innovative solution, WomenSave is expanding female financial inclusion, agency and resilience, consequently transforming the lives of women living in poverty.
What We Do
WomenSave offers clients financial literacy training, financial advisory services, commitment savings plans, regular reminders to make contributions to them and access to mobile money to keep their money safe. Savings plan categories include agriculture, business, consumer goods, education, health, housing, life events and livestock. Clients simultaneously save toward an emergency fund to access in times of need. Why not loans? WomenSave believes a savings plan is a more approachable, effective and inherently less risky financial tool, particularly for unprofitable purposes.
WomenSave targets poor (< $2 a day) women in underserved areas of developing economies. Market research in Uganda, where nearly 5 million women lack access to bank accounts, confirmed an unmet demand for commitment savings plans. Currently, we are completing a pilot project in the western districts of Kanungu and Rukungiri, where WomenSave has 514 clients. Our next steps will be to scale up in those districts, then expand to others regions of Uganda and eventually other countries.
Currently, WomenSave operates as a program within Global Partners for Development, an international non-profit dedicated to community-led development in East Africa. However, we are in the process of obtaining our own 501(c)3 status in the United States and subsequently will register legally as our own organization in Uganda. There, WomenSave has a Country Coordinator and a team of Savings Officers, local women with accounting, business and finance skills, who work directly with our clients.
The goals of WomenSave are to bring women into the formal financial system (inclusion), empower them to define and meet their own financial goals (agency) and strengthen their ability to weather economic shocks (resilience). Metrics of success include: # Women Trained in Financial Literacy; # Savings Plans Created; $ Total Saved; # Financial Goals Met; Increase in Women in Formal Financial System; and ultimately Improved Female Financial Agency and Resilience.
WomenSave raised over $20,000 to fund the pilot project. For the next phase, we are seeking $125,000 to reach 2,000 clients. These funds will cover the cost of delivering products and services, including salaries, training, passbooks/toolkits for clients, transportation to reach them and monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL).
Through the pilot and subsequent phases, WomenSave hopes to create a world where every woman has the tools, skills and confidence to shape her own financial future.
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