By CARE, February 2019

A VSLA is a self-managed group of 20-30 members that meets two to four times a month, providing members with a safe place to save their money, access loans and get emergency insurance. VSLAs provide access to savings and credit for low-income women, accelerating their economic success and ability to navigate life’s inevitable shocks. But that is just the start. The social networks created by these groups empower women to join forces, raise their voices and achieve their goals.

For more than 25 years, VSLAs have served as a vehicle for women’s economic empowerment. These VSLAs have:

  • Created pathways for nearly 1 million members in a dozen countries to open their first bank account.
  • Enabled more than 300,000 young people, many of them adolescent girls or young women, to establish solid financial management skills and income early in life.
  • Served as a platform for social justice and political empowerment.
  • Informed national policies and billion-dollar pro- Today, more than 60 government initiatives across Sub-Saharan Africa promote VSLAs or groups like them.

As of December 2019, CARE has directly supported more than 7.6 million members across 51 countries to join VSLAs, while influencing others to replicate the model, for a total reach exceeding 15 million members globally. We aim to reach 50 million additional women and girls in 44 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia that have the highest rates of gender inequality and economic disparity.

To get there, CARE will invest in four areas of change:

  1. Increase the rate of VSLA formation. We are committed to increasing the rate of VSLA promotion by 25 percent within each of our programming areas.
  2. Empower public- and private-sector scaling partners to form new VSLAs. CARE will work with existing and future government and private sector partners to help scale our work and by linking the growth of VSLAs to the sustainability and supply chain investments of major corporations.
  1. Digitize VSLAs to lower costs and extend reach. CARE is pursuing a Digital Transformation Initiative, developing a first-of-its-kind solution that anyone can use to promote the formation of high-quality, sustainable VSLAs.
  2. Build a strong VSLA network. Today, nearly 500,000 women are connected not only through their individual groups, but also through VSLA-to- VSLA federations, as in Niger and Mali.

Read the full scaling strategy here.

Contact: Emily Janoch


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