When a woman joins a KKi empowerment project it is likely the first time she has earned a fair and consistent income. The influx of income that the participants experience has an enormous impact on their life. It is used to send kids to school, provide nutritious food and pay for quality healthcare. In addition, money is often used to catch-up on quality-of-life goals like fixing up their house, buying furniture and buying decent clothing. When these quality-of-life goals are met (usually within 6-9 months after joining KKi) women start having disposable income, or extra money that is left over after meeting their basic needs. Often times people who have grown up in poverty have lived their whole life without any disposable income and therefore don't know how to use it to bring about positive social change. To encourage the women to leverage their disposable income in the most positive way, we offer a training series on saving as part of our training initiative.
The series, which in Peru started in August 2013 and will finish later this month, was developed to help participants answer 3 basic question about saving:
1. Why should I save?
2. How do I save?
3. Where can I save?
For the last six months we’ve been providing weekly savings training in Peru and one-on-one mentorship in order to equip participants with answers to these important questions. As part of the training series we launched a savings association to provide the women with a safe way to start practicing saving. The women decided to call the group “Las Emprendadoras,” which translates to “The Entrepreneurs.” We adopted this model because in Lima, as with most poor parts of the world, people won’t save in local banks because they fear being taken advantage of and the high fees that they are charged.
The progress we are making with the savings group in Peru is far surpassing our initial expectations. On average women are saving roughly 10% of their income every month. This is a huge success considering its recent inception and the fact that saving money is really hard to do. To give you some perspective: in many developed nations including the United States and Canada the average savings rate doesn’t surpass 5 %.
As we look towards the future well-being of the women who work at KKi we see savings as a major contributing factor. We are thrilled to have started off so successfully and are excited to continue to train and mentor them towards more holistic empowerment.