Update from February 28, 2018
Over the last year, the 25 members of Rio Jolomche collectively bought 1,266 shares in the savings group of $1.31 (Q10) each. From members paying interest on loans and fines, they collected an additional $1,258 (Q9,559), for a total of $2,923 (Q22,218).
When savings were distributed at the end of the first cycle, participants received between $50 (Q368) and $226 (Q1,667) each, according to the number of shares they had purchased during the year. Before joining Rio Jolomche, most of its members didn’t feel like they could save at all and now all 25 members have been building their savings and financial literacy.
They used these savings to invest in their businesses and diversify their livelihoods by starting other productive activities. They also used savings and loans they took out from the group to improve their houses, buy clothes and shoes, and feed their families more varied and nutritious foods. Some participants also chose to reinvest part of their savings in the savings group’s second cycle.
Throughout the year, they have learned to work together and trust one another to advise on issues they all face. They have become more confident, and are more active and vocal in their community. They can better manage and assess their resources, and told us they like the savings group methodology, its simplicity and its functionality, and the fact that the group is collaborative and easy to understand. Some members said, "The group is an opportunity to change and improve… It’s a new idea that has worked in the community."
Participants appreciate the opportunities offered by the savings group that they couldn’t find elsewhere, such as access to low-interest loans and a safe place to save close to home. The women see Rio Jolomche savings group as having a long life, and said they’d continue to save "until death stops us." 96% of members in Rio Jolomche elected to continue in the group for a second year, and we anticipate they will continue to save and build social connections for many years to come.
Update from August 15, 2017
Just five months after forming, the Rio Jolomche Savings Group has saved $822.50 collectively, 88% of which is currently loaned out to women in the group.
They are using these loans to buy food for their family and invest in their businesses. The women also have $30 in the social fund, after recently using the fund to support a member who had fallen ill.
One of the greatest benefits, from the members’ perspectives, is their increased access to credit via the savings group. They can now manage loans easily, ask for financial help from the group when they have problems, and earn interest off their savings. The group has agreed to prioritize giving loans to the women who need them most, granting loans based on the available funds. One member says, “When we have an emergency and need money, the group gives it to us. That does not happen anywhere else: nowhere do they give us money quickly and easily.”
Now that they are all in a savings group together, they often stop in the village to greet one another and talk, which they rarely did before. Group trainings have helped strengthen the women’s solidarity. For example, when they began planning their businesses, according to one participant, “we were inspired by what others were doing, which strengthened our ideas.”
They also are looking forward to the end of the savings group cycle, when they will retrieve a year’s worth of savings – plus interest from loans. One participant comments: “It’s like sowing a seed and seeing the fruit.” At the end of the year, they are planning to invest in their future success. Some want to fix their house, others want to diversify their businesses, or buy clothes and footwear for their families. We can’t wait to see where the 24 amazing women of Rio Jolomche Savings Group will be six months from now! Check back in January to see their successes.
Update from March 22, 2017
The 24 members of the Rio Jolomche savings group joined forces two months ago as part of Trickle Up’s Inclusive Livelihood Development in Tamahú project in partnership with the municipality of Tamahú and Newton Running.
These 24 women were selected because they lived in extreme poverty and vulnerability. Some of them have children with disabilities, and most belong to the indigenous Poqomchi community. They told us, “Everyone in the group is poor, but poverty has different faces in each family.”
Previously, the women had never imagined they could save – either alone or together – not to mention give loans to one another. At first, they were worried about where they would find enough money to both save and provide for their families. Living in extreme poverty, they could only scrape together enough to get by day to day, and often even that wasn’t enough. With seed capital and training, the members of Rio Jolomche have started to set aside a little money each meeting to buy shares in the savings group.
In Guatemala, members save through the purchase of shares in their savings group, effectively increasing their savings by a small amount each week. Like other savings groups, Rio Jolomche established a set of rules to ensure members participate, save, and respect the process and each other. Based on a collective decision, they determined the price of a share in the savings group and agreed to attend all meetings, be on time, sit in order according to their assigned number, buy at least one share at each meeting, and pay the interest on any loans they take within the agreed-upon timeframe. If they do not comply with these rules, the savings group members have agreed to pay a fine. At the end of the year, the group’s accumulated savings, interest on shares, and fines collected are given back to participants as dividends, according to how many shares they each hold.
“As we already have the knowledge of the methodology and its benefits, it is up to us to use it. We have promised to save and contribute our part [to the social fund],” they told us. The social fund is used as a small insurance plan to help each other out in times of need.
Rio Jolomche’s administrative committee was elected from and by the 24 members. The group chose the few women who know how to write to form this committee. They are in charge of the money, accounting, and leadership of the group, ensuring that everything is done correctly. The woman chosen to be the registrar tells us she is particularly aware of the responsibility given to her and says that she concentrates intensely when counting members’ savings and shares because she doesn’t want to get confused. Despite the pressure, she is very happy to have learned to work together with the other women in the savings group.
Two months after starting the project and just after receiving the seed capital to start their businesses, the Rio Jolomche savings group already has saved $150 collectively, of which $108 is currently loaned out to members. Despite not yet having started increasing and diversifying their sources of income, these women are managing to save some of their household income, knowing that their savings will increase in value and bring future returns for their families.
We look forward to sharing the stories of these remarkable women with you. Join us as we follow three women – Carmelina, Aurora, and Petronila – from Rio Jolomche on their 18-month journey to overcome extreme poverty. With support from Newton Running, Trickle Up, and our local partner, these women will become more active, independent members of their community and lift themselves and their families out of extreme poverty.
Meet the Women
Carmelina Xol Toc
Carmelina has six children, two of whom – Edgar Amilcar, 19, and Hugo Cesar, 22 – have suffered from untreated epilepsy their entire lives. With Trickle Up, Carmelina will build sustainable livelihoods, increase the family’s income, and be connected with healthcare services for her sons.
Aurora Beb Caal
Aurora struggles to feed her nine-person family three months of the year. She weaves clothing and her husband seeks work to try to make ends meet. With Trickle Up, she will begin a journey out of extreme poverty by learning to build diversified businesses and save for the future.
Petronila Och Tipol
Petronila’s mud wall home is at risk of collapsing entirely: one side of the house became flooded after the ground behind it collapsed. Over the next 18 months, Trickle Up will help Petronila increase her family’s income, stabilize her home, and lift her family out of extreme poverty.