In our Burundi program, many women and men are learning how to read and write for the first time.
Once the literacy and business training is completed, these folks use their new skills to begin saving and lending money as a group. Each savings group creates its own constitution and sets its own interest rates and penalty fees.
Francois in Makamba was so impressed by his wife's transformation that he decided to join a savings group himself.
"My wife joined this association, and when she had saved enough, she leased a plot of land and asked me to cultivate rice with her. She encouraged me to join this association. I thought, 'What is she doing?' But I came along and saw what it was about and joined. Before, I didn't have 1,000 Burundian Francs ($0.64) to spare, but I managed to save and now I have a loan. I didn't have land, but I have been able to get some."
Land ownership has opened a whole new realm of opportunities for Francois. He is able to plant, grow, and harvest food for his family as well as sale in the market. Increased income means a better education for his children and improved health care.