Reach Global has long recognized that savings groups represent the world’s single largest form of microfinance, encompassing an estimated 100 million women in India alone. Reach Global also recognized that savings groups in India, referred to as self-help groups, represent a tremendous platform to provide education. Leveraging this platform, Reach Global works closely with its local partner organization, Reach India, to support girls to manage money.
Reach education equips girls with new knowledge and practical skills to budget and save. The powerful combination of saving, knowledge, and skills prepares girls—the next generation of women—to cope with crises like the death of a breadwinner; manage life-cycle events like the cost of a funeral; and seize new economic opportunities like starting or expanding a microenterprise. These capabilities can literally define a girl’s future and that of succeeding generations.
Rigorous research confirms that combining saving and education in a group setting brings positive impacts. Additionally, combining services in the powerful existing phenomenon of self-help groups offers tremendous potential to support millions of women and girls—mothers and daughters—over time. Finally, training local organizations to facilitate the education leverages and strengthens the capabilities of local organizations.
The experience of one girl named Mohima illustrates the capacity of financial education to empower. Young Mohima walks down the main path of her village in rural Jharkhand State, along with two friends and a woman she affectionately calls Anwara Didi, or big sister. Anwara is a facilitator for a local community organization trained by Reach. Soon after joining her organization, Anwara became a mentor to Mohima and the other young women who participate in weekly Reach education sessions of their local self-help group.
In their group, Mohima, her mother, and 10 to 15 community peers join Anwara for lessons on family finance and mutual support—issues they would not otherwise be exposed to in their rural village. The use of songs, games and structured discussions accommodates different learning styles. The topics cover essential knowledge that equips both mothers and daughters to make smart decisions, such as saving for a goal, negotiating decisions with family members, or financing the expansion of a family microenterprise. The lessons present tangible solutions that can be applied right away, even before participants have completed all of the 7-8 weekly sessions of a given topic. The girls’ and mothers’ animated laughter reflects the fun and engaging nature of this learning.
Following their weekly meetings, the girls talk about the knowledge they’ve gained and the importance of sharing it with peers and family members. Mohima reflects on what she’s learned in the group about saving money and using it wisely. Every week, the facilitator gives each girl two rupees, which she can use as she wishes. Mohima always spends one rupee on food and saves the other. She hopes that one day she'll have enough to start her own embroidery business. She says she also values being able to contribute to her family. “My savings is sometimes all the money there is to buy food. That makes me feel useful to my family.”
It's clear that others believe, as we do, that investing in adolescent girls and women is both the right thing to do and smart for families, communities and society. We thank you for your belief in our work and invite you to contribute to it again by making a donation at the link below or our website.