December 1, 2016

For Pact WORTH members, formal banking boosts incomes and resilience

Written by Molly Derrick

This post originally appeared on PACT.

There is an excited buzz in the air as more than 50 women, some with young children in tow, gather in an open field outside a school in Tanzania’s Kituntu ward. The women are dressed in elaborately printed cloth. Some are wearing matching shirts, while others have matching skirts or head wraps. They are young, old and in between.

They are all eager to tell their stories of hope and change. They are members of Pact village savings and loans groups, known as WORTH. While each of their stories is different, they all started from the same vulnerable place.

The women are part of the more than 2 billion adults around the world without access to formal financial institutions. They save, borrow and manage their day-to-day expenses without access to banks, institutional savings accounts, debit cards or credit lines. When a family member becomes ill or a fire damages a home, they can be forced into risky and expensive deals with moneylenders.

For more than five decades, Krispina Christian lived without a reliable lifeline. As a 56-year-old woman in the rural highlands of Tanzania, she had meager financial resources for life’s daily necessities. She dreamed of a modern life and wanted to leave something of value to her three grandchildren, whom she cared for. But Krispina couldn’t imagine how that life could ever be hers.

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