Financial inclusion

A woman member of a village savings and loan group depositing money at a Barclays bank in Uganda

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Could women’s access to finance help solve global poverty?

Financial inclusion infographic

2 billion poor people around the world – particularly women – are financially excluded. That means they don’t have a safe place to save money, or access to affordable loans.

So they can’t safely put money aside to help meet future needs as health care or education for their children. They can’t save money to invest in starting or growing a business. And they can’t get a loan to turn a business opportunity – and the chance of a better life – into reality.

Only 37% of women in poor countries have access to basic financial services. CARE works to ensure that poor women have access to a full range of suitable and affordable financial services critical to withstand shocks and fulfil their economic and social potential.

Village Savings and Loan Associations

CARE invented Village Savings and Loan Associations – whereby women in poor communities set up their own savings and loan groups, enabling them to save money, and lend to each other when the need arises – such as illness, droughts or falls in income – or when opportunity beckons, such as the chance to start or improve a small business.

VSLA highlights (text)

Read more about how VSLAs work:

25 years of VSLAs (PDF)

Millions of women have already benefited from this simple yet effective way for ‘unbanked’ people to invest in their own future, and work their way out of poverty.

Microfinance helps whole communities out of poverty

Affordable financial services are central to addressing poverty. Microfinance services help the poorest earn a living, grow their businesses and create new jobs, pulling whole communities out of poverty.

CARE has been working on microfinance for more than two decades and currently has 131 microfinance projects in 39 countries, helping poor people to increase their incomes and make their futures more secure.

We also set up Lendwithcare, enabling people to directly support small entrepreneurs around the world through small loans that, once they are paid back, can be invested again and again. Find out more and make a loan at

Access to finance really is a ‘magic ingredient’

Access to finance is not a goal in itself: it is a means to end poverty and economically empower women – a means to pay for education and health, a means to help grow enterprises and create jobs, a means to tackle youth unemployment.

  • Read about our ‘Access Approved’ campaign which calls on the financial sector to develop products and services that are specifically designed to meet the needs of women.