Bloomberg Philanthropies and CARE to support women small business owners in East Africa with Village Savings and Loans Associations
Bloomberg Philanthropies has announced a partnership with CARE to expand existing Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) for agricultural funds in Tanzania, Rwanda, and Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The partnership will enable women who own small agriculture-based businesses to build capital and access credit to invest in and grow their businesses, ensuring long-term economic sustainability for themselves and their families.
VSLAs are member-driven community funds that encourage financial inclusion and independence by pooling resources and providing low interest rate loans. The partnership advances Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Women’s Economic Development Initiative, which has invested $65 million since 2007 in training opportunities for women internationally that build marketable skills across 12 vocational tracks in high-demand industries leading to economic independence for participants.
In 2020, Bloomberg Philanthropies piloted a VSLA program in Tanzania which successfully trained leaders of 29,000 informal Village Savings and Loan Associations on how to use agricultural funds. Working with CARE, Bloomberg is taking the next impactful step in creating financial stability for women by teaching 150,000 people, over two years, how to invest their capital and grow their small businesses in Tanzania, Rwanda, and Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The program will train women who are currently enrolled in or who are recent graduates from Bloomberg sponsored training programs, as well as their adult family members. This investment is projected to have a secondary impact on more than a half million families and community members.
Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Women’s Economic Development Initiative brings together government agencies, corporations, and nonprofits to provide individuals with sustainable income-generating and civic participation opportunities. Since 2007, Bloomberg Philanthropies has worked with partners to provide vocational training, financial literacy, and education on health and wellness to women and families. Globally, Bloomberg Philanthropies has invested in more than 568,000 women which has benefitted more than two million children and family members.
“Access to capital and credit allows women to apply their skills, grow their businesses, invest in their families, and achieve economic independence – with benefits that spread throughout communities,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and Bloomberg L.P. and 108th Mayor of New York City. “Too often, that access is lacking – but our partnership with CARE is helping to fix that, and we’re looking forward to expanding our work together through this new collaboration.”
“Women enrolled in the economic development programs funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies immediately invest in their children once they earn an income. With increased income and assets, they become decision makers on their children’s education, competitors in the international marketplace, participants in local elections, and leaders in their local governments,” said Verna Eggleston, who leads Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Women’s Economic Development Initiative. “We know that VSLAs work, providing entrepreneurs with access to banking resources and capital. Through this partnership with CARE, we are proudly providing more avenues for women to succeed for years to come.”
CARE will collaborate with existing Bloomberg Philanthropies partner Sustainable Growers, which works with women coffee producers in Congo, Rwanda, and Tanzania, and Women for Women International, an organization operating in nine post conflict regions, assisting women who are survivors of war. The partnership will:
Expand existing infrastructure for VSLAs
Providing financial literacy training
Increase women’s leadership and negotiation skills
Connect women with banks, access to small loans, and emergency insurance
Create direct connections between VSLAs and private sector partners to ensure women have access to markets
Build partnerships with governments and local authorities to help women with land acquisition
In Tanzania, these efforts will focus on supporting small-scale farmers invest in land ownership, equipment, and infrastructure to increase agricultural productivity and export premium tea. In Rwanda and Congo, the work will focus on supporting existing VSLAs and identify opportunities in the coffee, cocoa, horticulture, and legume markets as well as improving gender equity in agricultural cooperatives.
“We know it is impossible to reach economic prosperity if women are not able to realize their full potential and capacity to contribute. Bloomberg Philanthropies and CARE are helping unleash that power,” said Michelle Nunn, President & CEO of CARE. “We took the long-standing and highly impactful model of small savings groups that work together to save, lend, and start small-businesses and brought these groups together to amplify their savings power and to pool their resources to invest in equipment and tools for the next harvest. This is just the beginning. We hope others will follow the lead of Bloomberg Philanthropies in helping us build on the potential savings power of millions more women working together.”
“Sustainable Growers takes pride in being part of such a noble global partnership. It is such a huge opportunity for women farmers in East Africa. Through the partnership women in this region and Africa as a whole shall have reliable and affordable access to more capital in their pathway to entrepreneurial growth and development,” said Sustainable Growers Executive Director, Christine Condo. “Their economic growth and independence as well as entrepreneurial skills impacts immeasurably on sustainable growth of the entire community. Working together we shall make it happen.”
The partnership is being announced at Expo 2020 Dubai. Bloomberg Philanthropies’ partner Sustainable Growers, home of Question Coffee and the Coffee Academy, has been recognized as one of 50 development projects spotlighted by Expo 2020 Dubai’s Global Best Practice Programme.