In June 2011, Discovering Light completed an agreement with Water is Life International and the Ethiopia Kale Hewot Church to sponsor the Savings Group (Self-Help Group) Program in West Arsi. The goal was for 300 SHG to be formed by July 2014. The people of West Arsi were obviously hungry for this program and what it represented: A message that they were made in God’s image, had tremendous potential, and countless untapped resources available to help develop themselves, their families, and communities.
Nearly a year ahead of schedule, the program now boasts 326 groups with a collective capital of 730,000 Birr, an average of 2,239 per group.
We’ve heard story upon story of how the groups have impacted individuals and families, providing much needed funds for emergencies and income generation. One member shared how previously, money-lenders charged 100% interest and now, not only are group members taking loans at 10%, the interest goes back into the group savings and is shared with the group.
As groups expand and mature over the coming years, we anticipate they will play a vital role in addressing broader issues facing villages and the region such as infrastructure development, women’s rights, and environmental degradation.