Microfinance Survey Reveals Investor Satisfaction

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

CRS recently commissioned a survey of the communities in San Marcos where the women’s savings groups are operating. The survey was carried out by teenage girls who have received scholarships from CRS that enable them to attend school and purchase materials. Although we have not tabulated the complete results, I wanted to share some of the comments from the participants in the savings groups. The response from them was overwhelmingly positive—out of more than 50 participants, only a couple felt that the experience had not brought any benefits. (Note: We also interviewed community members who are not currently participating in the groups to measure whether they are aware of the groups and interested in joining one.)

A 55-year-old mother of six wants to invest in a clothing store. She likes participating in Avances de Mañana (Tomorrow’s Advances) because she now has money saved to cover future necessities.

A 45-year-old mother of eight hopes to expand her small sale of corn. She thinks her participation in Avances de Mañana benefits her entire family because they can count on her savings during difficult times.

A 42-year-old mother of six hopes to open a pharmacy and, although she hasn’t experienced many changes yet, she hopes that with patience her participation in a savings group will pay off.

Another mother of eight enjoys her experience because it is the first time in her life that she is saving money.

A 33-year-old mother of two in Nuevo Amanecer (New Dawn) dreams of having a small toy store. She loves knowing that she has money available when she might need it.

A 22-year-old mother of two in Ahorrando para Crecer (Saving to Grow) wants to open a bakery. She enjoys the “socializing” that takes place between the women at meetings. (Several others described the solidarity and “sharing” that occurs between members as the highlights of their experience.)

A 24-year-old woman in Ahorrando para Crecer would like to open a shoe store. She said that she was learning how to save because she used to spend whatever she had.

A 40-year-old woman in Nuevo Amanecer said that she was more prepared to deal with emergencies now. Interestingly, her favorite part of the savings group was learning about the rights of women.

A 27-year-old mother of three felt that she was learning how to manage her money more effectively.

Some women already have experiences operating microenterprises. They mentioned how they were saving more money now. (Although they did not say it, their savings and group loans may enable them to expand their operations in the future.)

A 31-year-old mother of four said that the savings groups benefit her and her community. She noted that she’s learned to become more participative and responsible. She also has the opportunity to meet new people in her community.

My favorite, however, came from a 10-year-old boy who participates in the Nuevo Amanecer group with his mother. He said that he’s learning to save and is becoming a “more responsible young boy.”

– Ben Hess

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