December 10, 2011, The Economist
“MY GROUP has rescued me and my children from poverty,” says Faustina Kwei, rearranging baskets piled high with cassavas and plantains around her market stall in a poor suburb of Accra, Ghana’s capital.
She used a combination of savings, dividends and loans from a savings group to rent her stall and buy stock. For the first time, she can feed her two children well and send them to school.
Ms Kwei (pictured) is one of millions of poor people to have benefited from the hottest trend in microfinance: village savings and loans associations. Millions of people like her survive on meagre and erratic earnings. Access to the simplest financial services can help stabilise their incomes, which in turn makes them less vulnerable to diseases and natural disasters. An unexpected flood or fever can push a poor family into utter destitution, or the muscular arms of loan sharks.
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