If you ask Sabina to describe how her life has changed since joining a savings group, you had better listen up and have a pen handy. The Bolivian woman barely pauses to think before the stories start flowing out of her.
Before joining a savings group, Sabina had knitted clothes for sale in Argentina. But when demand fell and prices dropped, her micro-enterprise no longer made financial sense. She had a strong skill, but where could she focus it? A thought hit her when she learned of a need for a knitting teacher.
"I could never have imagined being a teacher, but I encouraged myself to apply as a knitting teacher in a school, and they accepted me," Sabina said. "Now, I am helping many poor children to knit sweaters and scarves for themselves. I have always spoken like a teacher to other people, and now when people call me 'teacher,' I feel very good and special, and I have even more desire to teach."
Before joining a savings group, Sabina was reluctant to leave her home and talk to others. She lacked confidence. And she had little say in financial affairs at home, where she and her husband have raised seven children.
"I was very quiet and suspicious of people. I was also very timid," Sabina recalled. "I eventually joined a group because of my friend. She always told me that it is important to save for emergencies and to have capital for a business. At first, I didn't want to join the group, but she insisted that I try it, so I joined and began to save small amounts."
A year later, and to her great surprise, Sabina was nominated to be the group's president. "The other women in the savings group [had begun to] put a lot of confidence in me. When I was named president, this made me feel very happy."
With the income generated by her teaching and occasional knitting projects, Sabina continues to build up her savings.
"I am saving a lot because I know that the pre-military fees for my son will be very costly, and also my daughter leaves for her bachelor's degree this year," she said.
Her success in business and her development as a person has also caught the attention of her children and husband.
"Before, I had to depend on my husband," she said. "Now, I also give my opinion in my home, and my husband entrusts more responsibilities to me. I offer more ideas in the house, and I'm finding that I am more patient and happy with my children."
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