Photo Essay: Inside a Savings Group Meeting in Burundi

This week, a small group of Five Talents advocates and supporters are in Burundi to visit with some of the women and men who have joined savings groups and are receiving training in basic business skills, thanks to Five Talents' local partner in the country, Mothers' Union Burundi.

Here, photographer Ross Oscar Knight captures a few moments before, after and during a savings group meeting that he and others on the trip were able to observe.

Many of Five Talents and Mothers' Union's savings groups in Burundi hold their meetings in community churches like this one.

At every meeting, group members add to their savings. It is from this collective savings that group members may, in turn, access micro-business loans to support and expand their income-generating activities, such as buying salt in bulk and selling it to members of their community. The size of the microloans and the interest charged on the loans are agreed upon by the individual groups, which adopt a group "constitution."

One of the benefits of Five Talents' group savings model is that members have peers who can encourage them, advise them and support them both emotionally and spiritually. Every group memeber also receives training in core business skills, like accounting and marketing. Before joining a savings group, the women and men are given training in literacy and numeracy by Five Talents' partner Mothers' Union.

In 2013-2014, Five Talents served over 18,000 women and men in Burundi. For every savings group member served, up to seven people in their household benefit: financial management skills are passed on to children and spouses; living conditions improve when savings group members use their profits to install a new roof; parents are able to send their children to school.

Want to find out more about Five Talents' micro-savings, lending and training program in Burundi? Click here to learn how far a $50 donation will go.

All photography by Ross Oscar Knight for Five Talents