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Savings & Loans

300+ community-owned, women-led savings groups for sustainable income generation.

The inability of many Ugandan women to contribute financially to the family often means that they are perceived as less valuable than men. Instead, a woman’s expectation is to look after children, cook food and work growing fruit and vegetables in the garden. As a way to empower these local women, JENGA has instituted and supported Savings and Loans Groups across some of the poorest communities in Eastern Uganda.

Rather than locking desperate people into micro-finance arrangements with high interest rates, JENGA’s savings projects put the group members and the community in control of meeting their own needs. This project provides participants with a safe and sustainable way of saving and borrowing – avoiding bank fees which would negate the small amount of money these women are often able to save.

The groups are community-based, women-led and depend on existing community dynamics to survive. Each week, group members meet to contribute and save what they can afford. Once the group fund reaches a certain threshold, members can request loans for starting or sustaining a business, agricultural work or paying children’s school fees. JENGA supports these groups by providing the initial training and start-up materials and by regular visits to each of the groups to check on progress and offer further guidance.

Khasifa’s Story

Khasifa is a mother to ten children, living in a remote village on the slopes of the mountain. Due to high household expenses, and low income with very limited earning opportunities in the village, Khasifa was struggling to meet her family’s needs. She was not able to pay the school fees for her children and the only way she could earn any money was to dig holes in people’s gardens which helped her to buy food.

One day, someone gave Khasifa a gift of 20,000UGX (equivalent to around £4) and she immediately took this to the saving group in her village. When she joined the group, she recieved a loan which she used to start a business baking and selling cookies and to begin building a permanent home. At the end of the year, Khasifa received her savings, and alongside the profits of her business she was able to send her children to school and to also begin paying back the loan. One of her children was even able to complete a course training to be a midwife and is now living in their permanent and completed family home.