How do the WEP Self-Saving and Lending Groups work?

As a part of the Women’s Empowerment Project(WEP), participants create self-savings and loan groups, called GAAP for its meaning in Spanish, in the communities of Tepecoyo and San Ramon since 2019. The methodology was inspired by a community initiative made by Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and it involves making savings and loans with funds from the participants.

A GAAP is composed of a general assembly that can be up to 20 people that all have the same rights and obligations and the assembly elects a steering committee to be in charge of the administration of the funds.

San Ramon self-saving group

The assembly is made up of the president, who is responsible for keeping the agenda and directing the meetings; the Treasurer, who keeps the box with the money; a secretary who records in a logbook all the operations as savings loans, fines, emergency fund and carry a balance of inputs and outputs; two money-counting persons that count the money going in and out of the box; and two keyholders, one holds the box key and another the lock key and are responsible for opening and closing the box.

GAAP works by establishing written rules or agreements that define aspects such as:

  • Frequency of savings,
  • The meeting schedule,
  • Minimum amount of savings,
  • Interest rate for loans, among other things.

The main objective of GAAP is to practice the regular habit of saving.

The way money is handled in GAAP is very transparent, each participant must know the principles of GAAP, such as solidarity, dignity and equality of people, rights and responsibilities, sustainability, and preferential options for the poor. Together they promote trust, transparency, accountability, and other necessities to effectively manage the common fund. The WEP accompanies the operation of the activity and grants seed capital to increase the fund earmarked for loans so that everyone can have the same opportunities. 

Some comments from the participants during the exercises that we can share:

Tatiana – “Before I saved on a small scale, but I didn’t do it regularly, but now I have learned to be more responsible, keeping the quota we have stipulated, that saving already has a purpose when there is an emergency it can be used.”

In Tatiana’s group, they have managed to have spaces of greater solidarity, awareness, understanding, and collaboration between partners. The practice serves as a space where they can continue to build unity among the group of graduates by allowing space for the coexistence between women which includes talking, having fun, telling their bad and good experiences. All of them are heard and therefore is not only a space to save and borrow money, but also to strengthen coexistence and relations at the community level.

Guadalupe– “Now I have learned how to save, companionship, and punctuality” “Also because we help each other among women, that is very important”.

Alicia– “Saving is important, if I do it in the house I will spend my money, instead, here we earn interest and if you need a loan you can get it. It is very  necessary because you are able to share and live with partners, the group’s goal is to save and use it in the purchase of materials that are expensive and necessary in the business, you can invest in the business”

“In my group, we have all made loans, with the payment of interest to increase the capital, we all participate and we all have responsibilities” “We are all willing to continue with this habit, we thank Program Velasco for supporting us with this group. I achieved a savings of $155”.

Susana Ascencio– “GAAP loans have made it possible to solve needs that come with running a business, in my case I have the intention to be able to support myself with my savings in the near future”

Monica GARCIA – “My GAAP is called La Colmena, I never thought that one day I would have savings, I also managed to get a loan by simply explaining to the group in which I am going to invest it, this has allowed me to improve in my business. During each meeting we make raffles, to earn more money, we are collecting more.

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