SavGrpToday, somewhere in a rural village in the developing world, a group of women will sit down in a circle, and pass a basket. They will say their names: “Elfinish,” “Awa,” “Rosalinda,” “Winnie,” and place their dues in the basket, often the equivalent of less than $0.10 US dollars. One woman may make a proposal, asking for a loan of some of the collected money. She has a business idea that could help lift her family out of extreme poverty. Another woman proudly pays a previous loan back; her business idea is succeeding. Still another woman has had difficult circumstances strike her family: a sick child, an absent breadwinner. She needs to borrow money to survive a desperate situation. There is money for that as well. Additionally, a representative from an NGO (Non Governmental Organization), assists the savings group by providing education about important social issues such as hygiene, nutrition, or sexually transmitted diseases. Welcome to the world of Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA), a new way of looking at banking for the poorest of the poor, and the example we use to model at our iZōsh® Events. We, too, sit in circles. We introduce ourselves. We pay our dues. And through reading exceptional books and listening to compelling speakers, we educate ourselves about the plight of women just like those women in that first circle. We are a community of women supporting other women through the granting of microloans, helping them lift themselves out of extreme poverty. We invite you to read more in this excellent article about the savings group idea, and how it’s working in places like Uganda.

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