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Christian Aid Week
Published on 29 April 2024

In many communities around the world, access to traditional banking services is limited or non-existent.

For these areas, managing finances and accessing credit and loans can be a big challenge.
However, there is a solution that we have been helping to fund, which has been making a remarkable impact across the globe – Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs).

What are VSLAs?

VSLAs are community-based groups that provide a platform for members to save money, access small loans, and receive financial education.

These associations operate on the principle of mutual trust and cooperation, empowering individuals to take control of their finances and improve their livelihoods.

Image credits and information i
Aline Nibogora showing Christian Aid and its partners the VSLA account book and the transactions on it on August 2nd 2023 in Kayagoro village, Makamba, Burundi. Credit: Armstrong Too
Aline Nibogora showing Christian Aid and its partners the VSLA account book and the transactions on it on August 2nd 2023 in Kayagoro village, Makamba, Burundi.
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How do VSLA's work?

Here's how they work:

  1. Savings - Group members contribute regular savings to a group fund, which is then used to provide loans to members in need. These savings are typically kept in a secure location, such as a lockbox or a bank account.
  2. Loans - Members can borrow from the pooled savings to invest in income-generating activities, such as small businesses, farming, or education. Loans are typically provided at low interest rates and with flexible repayment terms.
  3. Social capital - Beyond financial benefits, this solution fosters a sense of community and solidarity among members. They provide a platform for networking, sharing knowledge, and supporting each other's endeavors.
  4. Financial education - The VSLA model also often includes financial literacy training, teaching members about budgeting, saving, and managing debt. This knowledge equips individuals with the skills to make informed financial decisions and build a better future for themselves and their families.

The impact of VSLA's

The impact extends far beyond economic empowerment:

  • Poverty alleviation - By providing access to savings and credit, VSLAs help members build assets, increase income, and lift themselves out of poverty.
  • Women's empowerment - VSLAs are particularly beneficial for women, who often face greater barriers to accessing formal financial services. Through their participation, women gain economic independence, decision-making power, and a stronger voice in their communities.
  • Resilience - In times of crisis or emergencies, VSLAs serve as a safety net, providing members with access to funds for essential needs or recovery efforts.

Our work in Burundi

Our work in Burundi shows the true impact a VSLA can have. Aline was was abused, homeless and hungry, struggling to survive after being forced to flee from her husband. 

Aline, in the depth of her sorrow, stumbled upon a transformative three-day community workshop with Christian Aid's local partners.  

‘I came out with amazing knowledge and skills. The trainer restored a sense of hope and energy in me,’ says Aline.

She was taught how to form a VSLA and establish a steady income. With all she had learned, Aline’s dreams and ambitions finally felt within reach.

Image credits and information i
Aline Nibogora walking on one of the roads within her Kayagoro village - Makamba province of Burundi.
A woman walks on a road wearing sunglasses.

With a small start-up loan, Aline started trading avocados and peanuts locally.

With her profits, she bought a bicycle so she could transport greater quantities of goods to markets further afield.

Eventually, her hard work had finally paid off, and she had earned the money she needed to rent a house.  

Image credits and information i
Aline with the push bike she uses to get her goods to the market. Credit: Armstrong Too
Aline with the push bike she uses to get her goods to the market.

VSLAs have proven to be a powerful tool for fostering economic growth, social cohesion and resilience in communities around the world. By promoting financial inclusion and empowerment at the local level, VSLAs are making a tangible difference in the lives of millions, one savings deposit at a time.

Please give today

Your donation will help push back against the inhumanity of poverty this Christian Aid Week.

More from Christian Aid

Aline’s Story

How Christian Aid helped Aline transform her life and climb out of extreme poverty.

How we operate

We work closely with partners, donors and sister organisations towards our goals of ending poverty and injustice.

Campaign with us this Christian Aid Week

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