In recent years, people and organizations have begun to re-think the ways in which micro-finance and lending can be more effective. With so many people interested in helping others across the world, lending has become increasingly accessible with the click of a button online. This increase in accessibility has led to difficulties in quantifying the impact these loans and micro-lending programs are having on communities. At Philanthropiece, we believe in creating impact for change that can be measured but understand the difficulty in measuring the impact that outside dollars can have on a community. Our approach to Community Banks is a fresh take on this trend and more closely resembles “Savings Groups” over what is traditionally considered micro-financing. For us and our communities, this appears to be working.
The Savings Group Information Exchange is a solid resource to compare the impact Savings Groups have across the world. They teach us that more than 200 million people (and many more millions that are undocumented) belong to Savings Groups around the globe and of those, 59 percent are active borrowers. What we find most inspiring is that 98 percent of these Savings Groups continue to operate independently after 18 months. Those numbers tell us that this new approach is working to create financial independence and security among communities.
Our Savings Groups, or “Community Banks” in Baja California Sur, Mexico, have produced their own inspiring statistics. To date, there are over 150 Community Bank members in Baja California Sur and over half of those individuals are women! Nearly 200 loans have been given out in a two-year period. Anyone that has experience in community development can speak to the many challenges of quantifying impac,t but with our Community Banks program we can see that our work is having an incremental and positive change.