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Mali: Help women entrepreneurs

A small loan paired with her good idea can launch a woman into business, bringing change to her family and her whole community.

The problem

In landlocked Mali, one of the poorest countries in the world, many people make their living as farmers. But increasingly severe cycles of droughts and floods coupled with civil unrest often leave families hungry.

What you can do

With your support, women who are members of savings groups can learn entrepreneurial skills, start small businesses, and help their families and communities thrive.

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What your donations can buy

$20 can supply 50 women with materials for business training Donate $20  

$50 can provide business training for two women Donate $50  

$100 can provide business training for four women Donate $100

Or donate another amount to help us fund 50 women's groups! Donate         

Consider raising funds for this project by creating a personal fundraising page to share with your friends and family: start fundraising.

Your support at work

Using the business training she received through her Saving for Change group, Tacko Keita, a Senegalese mother of seven children, identified a clear need in her village, Pakirane: It had no bakery and she decided to open one.

The nearest bakery was more than four miles away—a long walk for many who had to go on foot. With two loans from her savings group to cover startup costs, Keita and her husband built an oven and began producing 50 baguettes a day. Within two months, their daily production had jumped to 200 baguettes, each selling for about 20 cents.

Help women like Tacko earn a living and work their way out of poverty.

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Project details

Circles of change: from savings to small businesses

Having a safe place to save money and access to credit can help a woman—and her family—work their way out of poverty. That’s the goal of Oxfam’s Saving for Change program. It helps women who live in even the most remote villages gain financial independence and learn entrepreneurial skills.

Started in Mali in 2005 and now spread to 13 countries, the initiative brings neighbors and friends together into small groups where they can save their money, lend it to each other, and charge interest without needing to go to a money lender or other intermediary and take on debt. Group members use their loans to start small businesses or expand existing ones, buy household necessities, or meet sudden emergencies. Some saving circles manage more than $1,000—a resource that can fuel positive changes in remote communities.

And now, in an expansion of the program, a new set of opportunities is available to groups that are well established: business and citizenship training for members with entrepreneurial ambition. The training is tailored to the interests and needs of the participants and the content covers everything a budding businesswoman needs to know to be successful, including sessions on enterprise design, implementation, and management strategies. In the trainings on citizenship, group members learn about their rights and duties as citizens, about voting and paying taxes, and about the roles and responsibilities of local authorities.

Saving for Change groups provide their members with a safety cushion—their savings—ensuring that their means of making a living are not constantly at risk. With capital and credit available, women can invest in what’s most important: the future of their families and their small businesses.

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