Tree Gatherings + A Tool Box = Community Development

As part of the Spring Into Action campaign running from April 16 – May 1, we will be posting daily about topics related to extreme poverty and how anyone and everyone can join the movement to end it.

Think about it: There are individuals living in extreme poverty worldwide who have ingenious ideas. From inventions to business ventures, creative ideas are universal. However, because these individuals lack collateral, they are considered “unbankable.”

Women living in rural Mexico decided they were going to change this and reached out to CHOICE Humanitarian. With training from CHOICE, the women started a Savings Box Program that is now changing their community. How does it work?

Every week, 20 women from the community of La Concha meet under a certain tree. A meeting then commences that begins with the Treasurer, a woman elected to safeguard the key, opens a toolbox and removes twenty hand-knit pouches, placing each on the dirt. The elected Secretary then opens the ledger and proceeds to read each woman’s name aloud. What happens next is astonishing. As each name is read, a woman deposits at least 100 pesos (the agreed weekly minimum deposit) into their pouch and the money is recorded in the ledger. When this process is complete, the elected President reports the totals, the Treasurer places the pouches in the savings box, and it is sealed for another week.


Over time, this program provides access to capital to the unbankables. Approximately 1-2 years after running weekly meetings like the one described above, the savings are used to make small business loans to the women. A woman with an idea can present her entrepreneurial venture to the group and request a loan. The group then accepts or rejects the idea, and if accepted, funds are loaned. Using the loan, a villager might start a small garden, purchase chicks to raise, or build a water cistern. The savings box is self-sustaining from the small amount of interest on the loans.

These women also decide where significant development projects will be implemented in the community, creating a sort of governance council. Due to this program, communities are utilizing their own resources to implement their own development initiatives, with training and support from our native in-country teams. Now that’s how development should happen.

Today, consider investing in the CHOICE “Savings Box” -- our membership program, The Village. Each day you donate as little as 33 cents, and those funds pool with the funds of other members to support incredible projects in the seven countries we work. Plus, you get a cool bag from Bolivia that supports a local women’s cooperative. What more could you ask for? Join today!

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