CHAPTER 5

The Most Productive Asset of All: Empowering Friends and Neighbors

A savings group is a special kind of group, with a clear, indisputable purpose to fulfill an obvious, practical need. Savings groups encourage regular, continuing participation, and in doing so offer participants membership in a social club and the chance to engage in collective action. The practical nature of Saving for Change can become an excuse, a reason, to gather and work together.

In many ways, Saving for Change was perfectly adapted to fit the culture of rural Mali. There, many women already organize themselves in tontine groups to manage their money. Collective projects such as village gardens or work parties organized to share labor on each other’s fields are ...

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