SPARK partners with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zambia to present the Global Communities Women Empowered (GCWE) Savings program. This Micro-savings Initiative provides the means for individuals and groups to create economic sustainability within their families and communities. Training participants form groups and learn how to collectively save money and invest in income-generating activities to help realize financial goals. WE groups then elect their own leaders, decide on their own rules, and give each member an opportunity to practice public speaking. Once a group has completed initial training and are managing themselves independently, basic business skills training is added.
God calls us to live in connected community, so we believe relationships are key! We work closely with ELC-Zambia's Pastor Doreen Mwanza, the GCWE Initiative Micro-savings Coordinator and Women Empowered Trainer, Jonathan Sinyangwe in Zambia. To date we've had the privilege to partner with Pastor Doreen and Jonathan in the training of ten active groups in Lusaka Province, nineteen groups in four districts of Northwestern Province, and eleven groups in three districts of the Copperbelt Province! In the fall of 2023, two pastors and ten Community Facilitators received training in Southern Province. These Community Facilitators have begun forming new savings groups. Ambitious plans are unfolding to continue this vital work!
Spiritual wholeness is nurtured through these groups as women hear the Good News, become vibrant disciples of Christ, and grow in their faith. Each group’s weekly (or bi-weekly) meetings include Christian education and discussion. So far, thirteen groups have received The Holy Bible in their own language! Several districts have seen an increase in active church membership and participation in church projects attributed directly to a connection with a savings group.
WE groups also become a platform for members to increase their confidence, exercise leadership skills, form social networks, raise awareness about important topics, and act collectively to improve their lives and communities. Each group’s weekly (or bi-weekly) meetings include discussion of their plans for addressing health issues such as malnutrition, malaria, HIV/AIDS, and COVID.
To ensure sustainability, WE groups are designed to gradually operate more and more independently with the goal of becoming self-sustaining groups that thrive far beyond the program training time frame. Your donation through SPARK will nurture wholeness, health, and vitality in individuals, families, and communities for decades—and generations—to come!
Sustainable change begins with methodical micro-savings group training! Together we are empowering individuals, families, and communities!
Pr. Doreen Mawanza Women Empowered Micro-savings Coordinator
In 2023 a comprehensive Qualitative Assessment confirmed the impact of these savings groups on alleviating poverty and improving financial inclusion especially for those in rural and remote areas. These groups have undertaken a variety of agricultural projects such as growing and selling cash crops, raising goats and raising chickens for eggs. While there are community wide improvements, the greatest benefit is each group member's increased ability to stabilize their own family's spiritual, economic, and physical health. Many are now able to purchase uniforms and provide materials for their children's education - including the girls!
Lyness N., a 68 year old widow of more than 20 years, shares the sustained importance that her Women Empowered Savings Group has in her life. Following basic business skills training in 2019, Lyness borrowed from the group and began a tailoring business. She specializes in creating dresses, shirts, and trousers. During the 2023 Impact Assessment, she stated, “I am very excited about the business that I am doing currently... [and I] am grateful to church leadership particularly Pastor Doreen and our facilitator Jonathan, last am also thankful to our funders for this program”!
Rebecca and her husband (in Norhtwestern Province) had a difficult time paying the school fees needed for their children. After joining and learning in the GCWE savings group, Rebecca was able to take out a loan from the group and start selling popcorn and roasted nuts! Bit by bit the family's situation improved. They were soon able to afford the school fees and have 3 meals a day! She built her outdoor shop (shown here) and began selling tomatoes that she and her husband had grown. Rebecca's plans include extending her shop and looking for more land to grow a variety of vegetables to feed their family and to sell.
She shares, “[I] am very happy about the GCWE program because it has helped me [learn] the importance of saving and starting a small business as I am able to support my family!"
A loan to purchase dry fish and supplies yields a sustainable business and dreams of land and cattle ownership!
Potato crops planted in large bags capture and conserve water during drought.