Loading...
Women Empowered: Strength in Numbers
Now Watching
Women Empowered: Strength in Numbers
Next Suggested Video
Mali: Small Loans, Big Impact
Small village banks aren't just helping Africans to save money and invest in their communities, they also empower women and help families break the cycle of poverty. This film profiles two microcredit success stories from Malawi.
Flash Player 9.0.115+ or HTML5 video support is required to play this video.
Loading...

Explore CARE.org for information about how women and girls are leading change in their communities.

Learn more about the Women Empowered Project, created by CARE and Phil Borges.

Loading...

Share this video

Include start time Get current time
Include related videos, articles & actions
Loading...

Segment 1

TITLE
Beginning in the 1970s, microcredit loans enabled millions of people in Asia and Latin America to break the cycle of poverty.
TITLE
Unfortunately, the microcredit revolution stopped short of the poorest continent in the world: Africa.
TITLE
Millions of hardworking people don't have a safe place to save money. Most of them can't get an affordable loan. Another way had to be found.
TITLE
Strength in Numbers
PHIL BORGES [Documentary Filmmaker and Photographer]
I've spent several years documenting humanitarian issues throughout Africa. I'd heard that very poor African women were being encouraged and even coached to open their own banks. I really didn't get it. How could someone who is struggling to feed their family save, let alone lend money to someone else? So, in 2008 I went to Malawi to see for myself how these so-called "village savings and loan" [VS&L] programs really worked. Most of the people in Malawi, which is one of the poorest countries in the world, are subsistence farmers living on less than a dollar a day.
TITLE
Jinesi Mafuta, Kandaya village
PHIL BORGES
Jinesi, her husband, and daughters were one of those families. She and her husband Eya could not even afford the clothing to send their daughters to school. Food itself was a luxury item for several months out of the year. Jinesi clearly remembers that day eight years ago, when CARE came to her village to present the VS&L program. Seventy people went to that meeting, but it wasn't long before Jinesi and 60 others walked out. CARE offered no grants, no loans. Jinesi was just very skeptical.
JINESI MAFUTA
At first, I went to join the group without much confidence. I was the one discouraging my friends from joining VS&L. I had a change of heart when I saw what was happening with my friends, and decided to go.
PHIL BORGES
Once in the group, Jinesi committed to save 20 cents a week. She stuck with it, and today, five years later, the results I saw were almost unbelievable. In the very first year, she took out a loan to buy fertilizer. That crop fed her family for the entire year. This caught her husband's attention. He started giving her money from his carpentry business to save. Today, their three daughters are in school. They've not only purchased an ox cart and livestock, but they've also purchased farmland, and land to build rental houses. As in so many developing countries, women here grow the food, they collect the firewood and water, they take care of the children and animals, but rarely do they handle the family's income. Yet it's women's discipline to save and repay loans that makes VS&Ls such a success. And it's women's tendencies to invest in their families that make VS&Ls so effective in fighting poverty.
EYA MAFUTA [Farmer, Carpenter]
At first, getting cash was like hand to mouth. Once they got the money they would use it immediately. But now that the women started saving in VS&L, they are able to keep a lot of money and use it to achieve bigger things in life. The people in this community -- almost every person -- are really interested in VS&L after seeing what the women are doing. The community now respects the women.
PHIL BORGES
Now, that's progress. Eight years after CARE started that very first VS&L group in Jinesi's village, 25 groups have started on their own, without depending on any outside support. The benefits, which are visible to everyone, just keep the groups multiplying.
TITLE
Elise Mdzuma, Kaundama village
PHIL BORGES
Elise is the treasurer of one of the 65 groups in her community. She became a member of a VS&L group in 2006, and has never looked back.
ELISE MDZUMA
Before the VS&L program came to the area, I was so destitute. I was nobody. Soon after the introduction of VS&L, my life really improved, from zero to somebody.
PHIL BORGES
When I met Elise, her group was getting ready to take the next step. They were pooling their money to start a poultry business. And they wanted to make their community the poultry capital of the whole district.
ELISE MDZUMA
When we have a group business, it not only means our own households are better off, but the whole community is stronger. Kaundama will be known for where the women have a poultry business.
PHIL BORGES
Now, after visiting over 40 groups, I realize that the VS&L process not only tackles poverty, but it instills pride. And it strengthens relationships between women, and relationships between husbands and wives. And, most importantly, it empowers and it builds respect for women. And women's empowerment is so central in the fight against poverty.
ELISE MDZUMA
I could never imagine having a cell phone, buying iron sheets for the roof, and pigs. In my heart I have peace. Everything I want in my life is available.
TITLE
The VS&L process is brilliant in its simplicity. CARE has an ambitious goal to enroll 30 million VS&L participants in the next decade.
TITLE
Seeing how fast these groups spread once the seed is planted, I think it just might be possible -- Phil Borges