Ethiopia: Money Saved, Happiness Grown

Written by Jacquelyn Wright, Vice President of International Programs at CARE Canada

How often do we think about money, whether it’s saving it, spending it, borrowing it, loaning it or investing it?

I am pretty sure that is an everyday occurrence for most of us in Canada.

It represents safety and security and even success and happiness. With the holidays over and credit cards due, lack of cash can be a serious source of stress and anxiety too.

Now think of what it must mean for a village woman living in Ethiopia with a small plot of land but few resources to survive.

Stress and anxiety? Check.

But what may seem like a tiny amount in Canada can bring a bounty of happiness and blossoming success for her.

Village savings and loans associations are a CARE innovation, creating new opportunities for some of the world’s most vulnerable communities.

In these groups, participants, primarily women, work together to save and build their financial resources. Members contribute a small amount to the group savings monthly and lend to a group member so she can start or expand a business, access education or health care, or purchase food for her family. She then pays the loan back with a manageable amount of interest and the savings

I recently met the woman in the photo below during a visit to a CARE food and nutrition project in Amhara region in Ethiopia. Thanks to the support of the Government of Canada, she is part of a CARE village savings and loans association and was so proud to show me the carrots she grew in her garden continue to grow.

The expression of pride and hope on her face as she gazes at her newly-grown vegetables represents nutrition for her family and profit at the market.

The simple act of getting together as a group and agreeing on saving money and setting rules in place for investing and spending that money can mean the same thing as it would for us here – safety and security, even success and joy.

They say money leads to happiness, but it really doesn’t require a fortune.

All it takes is a community working together, pooling their resources; a small loan to buy some seeds and tools; and honest, hard work growing enough healthy food to both feed a family and sell to earn a little extra.

Learn more about CARE Canada’s food and nutrition projects.

Your support helps women all over the world lift themselves out of poverty by helping them start saving money and investing in each other.