Financial Inclusion and the Family: How Women Win Influence in the Home with Savings and Business Skills

Tereza's story begins like that of so many other women in Five Talents' programs – with a single coin, the first bit of money she entrusted to her group savings fund.

"At first, I saved very little because my husband didn't like this idea. He thought that we couldn't do it," recalled Tereza (R), a savings group member in Bolivia who runs a micro-business selling party favors and gifts.

However, when her husband suffered a serious accident and nearly lost an eye, Tereza began to see a change in his outlook. "We didn't have enough money saved. Truly, we suffered a lot to find all the money for his recovery," she said.

"Only then did he understand that it is important to save, and since then he has given me more money so that I can save it in the group."

Every family's story is different, but the benefits of participating in a savings or loan group don't just stop with the woman who is accessing loan capital, building up savings and learning business and accounting skills.

The woman's newfound confidence and knowledge can make a saver of the most spendthrift husband. Her financial literacy skills may be transferred to children and extended family. And her home life is often transformed – abuse ends, new respect blossoms, and hope's light begins to infuse the dark corners of the family's poverty.

A marriage transformed

Sumarti, a mother of five in Indonesia, runs a small canteen selling local food, pancakes and ice pops, turning her favorite hobby into a micro-business. "What I like to do in my life is cooking. It is something I will do until I grow old," she said.

Since joining a loan group in Jakarta, she has used micro-business loans of $85 to $150 to slowly develop and expand her business. She has also participated in business skills training workshops.

One of the most impactful parts of the Five Talents program for Sumarti was a seminar on how to be a wise woman. Her marriage had been in trouble, and her husband, who was out of work, was often short-tempered.

"I got help from that seminar. It reminded me to be in a position that would sustain my relationship and get along with my husband," Sumarti said.

Today, her marriage is stronger than ever before. And having learned some valuable lessons, she has been able to mentor other women and help them through their own marital troubles.

"I have gone through ups and downs in this life," Sumarti said. "I help others by sharing my life with them."

'Now, my husband listens to me'

Judith, a savings group member with Five Talents' program in Burundi, is a smallholder farmer who used some of her first savings to buy a pig. The pig's manure, meanwhile, has become a fertilizer for her crops.

When asked about how participating in a savings group and receiving training has benefitted her, Judith doesn't hesitate to reply.

"I am able to give to my church," she said. "It has helped with planning and managing family life. I am able to contribute to the development of our household. And I participate in family decision-making. Now, my husband respects me and listens to me when it is time to make decisions. This was not the case before I joined the savings group."

As for Tereza in Bolivia, the transformation in her home life continues.

"I feel more at peace, because I have learned a lot of things – above all, the Bible and how to manage money. Now, with my family, we leave to go take walks, and we go to many places to have fun together."

And after seeing the benefit of saving money, Tereza's husband has grown excited and is even pitching in to help her grow her party favor business.

She said: "Now, this business helps us to have more income at home, but we have also learned that we have to save [for times when there is less]."

You can impact more families in Bolivia, Indonesia, Burundi and elsewhere by making a donation today.