Guatemala: Trainers Help Form Microfinancing Groups

Ben Hess is a CRS international development fellow living in Guatemala and working with savings-led microfinance programs.

Guatemala microfinance

After a two-day workshop trainers are ready to help others form savings-led microfinancing groups. Photo by Benjamin Hess/CRS

CRS sought to maximize impact by training a small group of women who have received literacy training and already serve as animators for community activities. They, in turn, would be responsible for forming and training the savings groups. This training-of-trainers method is considered more effective and sustainable because the animators have the community’s trust and confidence, enjoy personal relationships with many of the people they are trying to recruit, and understand the local norms.

The workshop covered how savings groups work and the benefits they offer, the roles and responsibilities of group members and leaders, and the systems and controls that ensure the groups’ transparency and accountability. We used games and interactive presentations to help the animators practice the promotion and organization of savings groups. Above all, we emphasized the importance of the animators’ role as trainers and facilitators. The group members make all decisions together: they elect their leaders, determine how much to save, evaluate and grant loans, and ensure that members comply with rules.

At the end of the workshop, hope and excitement filled the room as each participant described her impressions of the project.

“I want to teach members of my community to save money,” one elderly community animator declared, her bright eyes shining with determination as she addressed the group. “I also want to give them hope for a better future.”

“I realized that anyone can save money, even if it’s just a few quetzals a month,” a younger woman commented.

Others expressed their appreciation for having the opportunity to form savings groups among their neighbors and friends.

The participants’ interest and buy-in reassured me that the project would receive a similarly favorable response in the communities where we hoped to form savings groups. The real clincher, however, came in the form of a question.

“Can we join the savings groups we form?” several women asked. I’m happy to report that the answer was “yes.”

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One Response to “Guatemala: Trainers Help Form Microfinancing Groups”

  1. Patricia Nixon Says:

    I found your site because I want to do something similar. I just returned from Guatemala on a medical mission and saw he incredible opportunity such a program could provide. How can I help? Sign me up! I am a teacher so training others is something I have experience ( 23 years) with. I agree that training the people of the community to be in charge is the most effective way too.

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