Janet Bargo is one of the informal settlers in Metro Manila’s biggest slum areas, Baseco. She never learned how to save as her income are not even enough for their daily expenses. Most of the time, she borrowed money from loan sharks just to make ends meet.
Little did she know that when she decided to join the savings group introduced in their community, she will eventually become one of the leaders in inspiring people in their communities to save.
Funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is implementing a project to Strengthen Urban Communities’ Capacity to Endure Severe Shocks (SUCCESS) brought by flooding.
One of the components introduced in the project is the Savings and Internal Lending Communities (SILC) or collective savings and lending of neighbors. Through the collective savings, group members have learned how to save and if they wish, grow their savings by lending it to their members with agreed low interest, which at the end of the cycle, are also divided to the members.
“I have already experienced the benefit of saving in our group when our group distributed at the end of the cycle the earnings from the interest plus the total savings we each have. I was empowered now that even with my meager income, I can actually save and even grow my savings even with a little amount,” Janet said.
Now, Janet is not just a member of the collective savings group but has become one of the certified Private Service Providers (PSPs) in her community, encouraging other community members to form a group to save and lend collectively. Before she received her certification from CRS as a PSP, Janet went through several trainings supported by CRS where she learned the best practices in facilitating groups, basic financial management and literacy.
As certified PSP, Janet will continue the work of CRS and will form independent savings groups in her community. Aside from her own group, Janet can also receive additional income, however small, from each group she forms in the future. The amount varies as agreed by the group she formed.
From being a member of her community’s collective savings and through the savings group she formed, Janet doesn’t just have savings in time of crisis, she has also been able to renovate her house with no loans.
“This is actually what I was always sharing with my neighbors when I am encouraging them to become savings group members,” said Janet.
The savings group is part of CRS’ project sustainability in the partner barangays which SUCCESS wanted to leave after implementation. SILC efforts will inspire and change more lives of urban communities on the mentality that poor cannot save, and to bring a more positive outlook in life that in times of disaster the poor can have an emergency fund which will aid in their recovery and make communities resilient to effects of disasters.