An estimated 5.8 million people suffer from blindness across Africa. Though daily life may pose challenges for this population, they yearn for the same opportunities to maintain a livelihood, like many of FINCA’s clients.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, FINCA staff recently created an initiative to help blind women improve their lives through group savings. FINCA staff gave donations to 16 women, who were begging on the streets of Kinshasa, to start their own businesses. Many of these women started small retail businesses, such as selling cooking oil, coal, groceries or plastic goods.
Over the course of a few weeks, FINCA staff trained these women on business management and the importance of savings. Then, the women formed a savings group.
Savings groups are comprised of low-income women and men who come together to save funds securely. A designated leader of the group deposits the funds into each of the group members’ accounts through a FINCA banking agent. The agents are equipped with POS machines, a portable device that connects to bank accounts through biometric fingerprints.
Since the project launched in the fall of 2016, 15 out of the 16 women have been able to maintain their businesses as well as save money! The initiative shows that access to financial services, like savings accounts, are powerful tools to create opportunity, drive prosperity and change lives.