• Financial Services
Start Date:
Dec 2021

Give people access to financial services


The hard working people of Arri Ward struggle to make ends meet. They work all day to grow crops, raise livestock, provide food for their families, and educate their children. Among the many challenges of those living in poverty are lack of access to financial services. Traditional sources like banks do not lend to those lacking collateral, so there is little opportunity to open or expand a small business (e.g. a tailor to purchase a sewing machine or a farmer to acquire additional land). And lacking insurance, there is little to no security net if a spouse falls ill or dies.


Savings groups can fill that gap. More than 100 million people around the world are members of community-led savings groups. Savings groups are self governing groups of typically 20-30 members who work together to provide access to financial services. They provide a secure place to save money, lend money to members via short term micro-loans, offer a return on investment from loan fees, and give financial and emotional support to members during crises. 


Training communities in savings group procedures and related topics is the first part of Karimu’s Financial Services Program which will:

  • Create and train new and existing savings groups.

  • Establish a savings group federation to provide funds across member savings groups.

  • Provide seed money to the federation from which savings groups can take out larger loans which, in turn, will increase the loan funds available to their members. 


Key to the success of this strategy is effective and consistent savings group operations so that groups can demonstrate their trustworthiness to one another. Karimu has been training groups in Ayalagaya Ward beginning in 2019 with encouraging results. To learn more about savings groups and our results in Ayalgaya Ward, please see our project Effective Savings Groups - Ayalagaya.


Karimu is providing the initial training until community based trainers can be sustained. Each savings group must purchase their own supplies costing approximately $50 in the first year covering a lockbox, 3 locks, a ledger, member passbooks, stamp and ink pad, bowls, and calculator.

July 2022 Update: We have identified 25 unique savings groups in Arri thus far and have visited 18 of them. As we found in Ayalagaya, groups have had some training in the past, but have not maintained good participation, consistent practices, and transparency, with the exception of one stellar group whose practice of reviewing the group’s constitution we are adopting! Average baseline assessments across the groups in Arri that we have visited are just above 49%. Our goal with training is for these to all be above 80% which would indicate an effective management committee, strong member attendance and participation, transparency and good record keeping for loans, and timely repayment.


Visiting a couple of the existing savings groups we found fairly low attendance.


We currently have 3 groups in training with 6 more interested in starting with the beginning of their next savings cycle.


December 2022 Update: We currently have 6 groups in training in Arri Ward. We had 2 more groups start, but then stopped: one due to poor attendance and one because they decided they didn’t need the potential for larger loans.  We have 7 more groups interested in the training, but we have not started due to capacity limitations on our side.


We have had more attendance challenges in Arri and we have defined a specific policy to clarify attendance requirements for the training. 

  • If there is less than 70% attendance we don’t train that day.
  • If there is between 70% and 80% we remind them that we want to see above 80% because we will be looking for very strong attendance for financial assistance

  • Stop training if attendance is low 3 times in a row.



We have about 169 savings group members representing ~ 144 households which translates to ~ 4.8% household participation. No groups have graduated yet.


September 2023 update: We just graduated our first group in Arri Ward! Five remain in training.

Hapa Kazi Tu becomes the first group to graduate the Karimu training in Arri Ward


December 2023 update: We ended the year with 7 groups in training and 1 group graduated. We anticipate four groups graduating in the 1st quarter 2024. Our groups in Arri are managing $26,780 in savings and loan funds. In total there are 167 members touching ~ 6.2% of households. Ninety percent of participants are women and just over 8% are young adults (under 35).




  • Increase the number of households having access to financial services

  • Increase the understanding of how to save and borrow money wisely

  • Increase the financial safety net available to households during crisis

  • Increase access to loans for small business and community projects

  • Develop leadership skills to empower community members

  • Increase of overall income of local families



  • Karimu: $10000

  • Community: $500