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Rwandan women still marginalised in village saving schemes

Genesis conducted an evaluation of CARE International’s Scale Up project that sought to reach 300,000 new Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA) members of whom 75% were to be women.

Our evaluation found that although women were identified as the priority beneficiaries of the project, there was an absence of structured and nuanced gender programming.

Women spoke about how the participation in the savings groups often conflicted with their societal role of homemaker and caretaker. This led to changes in the dynamics of the household structure, particularly with regard to the relationship between spouses and general decision-making authority in the home. Women also had no preparation or guidance on how to navigate these changes.

Strategic recommendations suggested that consideration must be given to address the changing gender dynamics in households and communities that emerge as women join VSLAs and establish increased levels of empowerment, independence, and choice over their own lives.

CARE Canada’s Promoting Opportunities for Women’s Economic Empowerment in Rural Africa (POWER Africa) initiative, funded by the Mastercard Foundation, aims also to improve financial inclusion in Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia and Rwanda by linking village loan and savings associations (VSLAs) with formal financial institutions.

Promoting opportunities for Financial Inclusion in Rwanda (PROFIR), as the project is called in Rwanda, aims to allow more than 180 000 people access to formal financial services. The PROFIR project began in November 2013 and will continue until December 2017.

While the goal of PROFIR is to improve people’s lives by linking their savings groups to the formal financial sector, a broader objective could be to design an intervention that has great impact and is able to be scaled and replicated in other contexts by various financial-sector players. Thus, there is emphasis on measuring the impact of PROFIR using a rigorous evaluation of the intervention.

Genesis was contracted by CARE Canada in 2014 to conduct an impact evaluation on PROFIR. The evaluation was designed to be as unobtrusive as possible without compromising its credibility and statistical validity.

PROFIR’s quantitative impact will be estimated using difference in differences, while case studies on “typical” members are being used to provide qualitative depth to the study.

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