VSLA By the Numbers: A Comprehensive Analysis of the Impact and ROI of VSLAs

Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) have been a foundational programmatic approach at CARE since 1991. Since then, CARE has helped over 13.7 million people join savings groups. The savings group model has been adopted and adapted by a variety of organizations globally. Through this report, we will examine the social and financial effects and returns of savings groups as well as how groups affected members’ resilience to COVID-19. The results gave an overview of the financial return on investment (ROI), group economic outcomes, savings groups costs, and individual and household effects for savings groups both inside and outside of CARE.

In order to calculate a return on investment, the financial benefit for a typical participant over three years was considered as well as the financial benefits for a replicated VSLA for two years related to the cost that the donor/implementer spends to set up and oversee the VSLA for its first cycle. Using internal CARE data such as budgets, evaluation, and impact reports, the average ROI of costs to establish a saving group was between 7:1 and 20:1. For every $1 invested by CARE, there is evidence for the savings of a typical VSLA participant to increase between $7 and $20. For the average VSLA participant, median income increased by $9.35 (+/- $0.55 USD) within the first year of joining the group for each $1 USD invested. Additionally, average income increased by $18.85 (+/-$1.15 USD) within five years of each $1 USD invested. Using industry data and internal CARE data, this analysis showed that for every $250 USD invested three net new children attended school.

The financial effect of a VSLA appears to outlast the formal lifecycle of the group. Evaluation of VSLAs as they phased out found that the return on savings (ROS) was 50% (+/-10%) during the supported formal lifecycle of the group and decreased to around 35% (+/-19%) after the VSLA is phased out. However, the positive outcomes and impact of participating in VSLAs continue even after project phase out. Members continue saving and getting benefits. Share value even increase for 57% (+/-13%) of groups in the available data.

A Win-Win for Gender and Nutrition: Testing A Gender-Transformative Approach From Asia In Africa

Since 2016, CARE Burundi has partnered with Great Lakes Inkingi Development (GLID), RBU2000, and the University of Burundi/Agronomy department and the Africa Center for Gender, Social Research and Impact Assessment to implement and test the EKATA approach – Empowerment through Knowledge And Transformative Action – integrated into an agriculture program to test its effectiveness against a typical gender mainstreaming approach (Gender Light) and a Control (with agriculture interventions only) in a modified randomized control trial, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Win-Win project randomly assigned collines to EKATA, Gender Light and Control groups. Baseline data was collected in 2016 – Midterm was conducted in 2018, and end-line data was collected in 2020 from a random sample of 1,315 households and 1,849 individuals (1,059 female heads of household, and 790 male heads of household). Additionally, the project conducted 36 individual in-depth interviews, disaggregated by sex and age – and male- or female-headed households – at baseline, midline and end-line. This data was complimented with focus group discussions (FGDs). The evaluation looked at the impact of EKATA compared with Gender
Light and Control on several areas, including rice production (which was the main focus crop), income and wealth, gender equality and women’s empowerment. The cost-effectiveness of these approaches also was analyzed. The evaluation used the project level Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (Pro-WEAI) to measure changes in gender equality and women’s empowerment. Read More...

GEWEP II: Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Programme II Final Report

GEWEP II works with and for poor and vulnerable women and girls. More than 8 160 000 women and girls live in our programme areas, and the end programme target is to directly work with 1 022 200.
The main impact is through Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs). The VSLA model came out of a pilot in Niger in the early 90s. Nearly 30 years later, there are more than 6.7 million VSLA members across the globe. Other organisations and governments have adopted CARE’s model, thereby multiplying impact. GEWEP continued to scale up VSLAs, and advocated for governments to recognize the model. The Governments of Burundi, DRC, Niger and Rwanda all recognize the important contribution of VSLAs to women’s economic empowerment, manifested within national strategies, policies and funds.
Women’s economic empowerment opens up for women’s participation. GEWEP supported women to come together and find confidence and common cause through VSLAs. We find VSLA women who actively participate in decision-making in formal structures, and who manage to stay there despite resistance from some men. This is the main success for women’s participation, across countries.
The shrinking space for civil society remains the most difficult challenge. In all countries, CARE’s main approach was to maintain good relations with those that are directly engaging with the field of women’s rights or who control the implementing areas or relevant political processes. This approach was successful in terms of preserving enough working space for CARE, GEWEP partners and other civil society actors working in the same field. Read More...

INTORE II PROJECT: Final Evaluation Report

CARE Burundi implemented a project to improve the protection of children's rights called Intore II by creating recreational and educational spaces in the communes of Ntahangwa and Mukaza in Bujumbura, and Giheta and Itaba in Gitega province from May 2016 to April 2019. In order to document the project’s impact on the young people and children’s lives, an internal final evaluation was conducted in April 2019. Read More...

Every Voice Counts: Social Inclusion Report

This qualitative study on social inclusion of women and girls in (in)formal planning and budgeting processes at local level took place under the EVC programme. In Burundi, EVC advocates for the respect of the 30% quota of women’s participation at community level, it aims for inclusion of women and girls in community development planning (PCDC), and advocates for the completion and implementation of the Gender Based Violence (GBV) law; specifically looking at the quality of legal and health services offered to GBV victims and strengthening municipal marriage registration. Key strategies of EVC Burundi include the implementation of the Community Scorecard (CSC), support to Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs), and advocacy on the aforementioned topics. Lobby is tied to CSC outcomes as well as existing community peace clubs.

There is very little data available on how women and girls participate in (in)formal governance spaces that focus on planning and budgeting, and how they perceive their participation. This research therefore aims respond to the following main research question: What are the factors or "pathways" that contribute to women and girls participating in (in) formal planning and budgeting processes? In line with the overall research framework of this study, specific emphasis lies on analysing different degrees of participation, notably access, presence and influence. Factors/pathways are tied to three types of empowerment (or obstacles): individual or collective agency of women, their relations with others (ex. family, community, organisations), and support offered by structures (ex. authorities and CSOs/INGOs). Findings aim to improve effectiveness of the EVC programme by offering insight into how the programme can influence these (in) formal planning and budgeting processes. Read More...


Depuis Décembre 2015, l’Ambassade des Pays Bas au Burundi a financé, un programme conjoint dénommé "MENYUMENYESHE" qui vise l’appui à la santé sexuelle et reproductive des adolescents et des jeunes au Burundi. Ce programme est mis en œuvre à travers tout le territoire national par le consortium constitué de l’UNFPA, CORDAID, Rutgers et CARE Burundi qui en assure le lead. Ce programme prévoit de couvrir de façon progressive 1,1 millions d’adolescents et de jeunes (10-24 ans) pendant 5 ans. Il s’est entre autre assigné de contribuer aux solutions durables pour améliorer la SSRAJ en mettant en place des systèmes qui seront à long terme soutenus par le Gouvernement. Dans une vision holistique, ce programme a ciblé quatre domaines de résultats: au niveau de i) l’éducation, de ii) la Santé, de iii) communautaire et de iv) la coordination.

Au terme de 3 années de mise en œuvre, la présente évaluation à mi-parcours rentre dans le but de documenter et mesurer la qualité de la mise en œuvre du programme. Il s’agit d’une évaluant qualitative de la portée des résultats atteints au niveau de la coordination et plaidoyer, de l’éducation et de l’offre des services SSRAJ et de la satisfaction des bénéficiaires tout en identifiant les défis qui influencent sa mise en œuvre. Read More...

Renforcement des Organisations de la Société Civile pour accroître leur contribution au processus de gouvernance et au développement

Le Projet de Renforcement des Organisations de la Société Civile mis en œuvre pour 26 mois au Burundi, par un consortium de trois ONGE (CARE International comme lead, OXFAM et ACTION AID) avait l’objectif d’accroitre la contribution des OSC dans le processus de gouvernance et dans le développement. Les interventions de ce projet ont touché les 18 provinces du pays pendant une période allant du 01 décembre 2016 au 31 janvier 2019.

Pour mieux renseigner les acquis et les effets du projet, les leçons apprises et les mécanismes pouvant guider les interventions ultérieures dans le domaine de renforcement de la société civile burundaise, une évaluation externe finale du projet a été commanditée et menée de façon participative et interactive. Read More...

Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Programme, GEWEP II 2016 – 2018 Burundi, Rapport de l’évaluation finale, Mars 2019

L’évaluation finale de GEWEP II (programme d’autonomisation des femmes exécuté depuis 2016 dans 7 provinces du Burundi et finance par NORAD via CARE Norvège) avait pour objectif de mesurer les progrès réalisés mais aussi les gaps qui restent à accomplir pour que le groupe d’impact (les femmes de 15-64ans de la zone d’intervention jouissent d’une autonomisation économique, sociale et politique effective. L’évaluation a permis une étude comparative entre la situation de référence (telle que présentées dans le rapport de l’étude de base) et la situation finale issue de l’analyse des données collectées sur terrain au mois de janvier 2018. La collecte des données pour l’évaluation finale a été faite sur un échantillon, quantitatif, représentatif de 774 personnes dont 406 femmes et 368 hommes. En plus de ces données quantitatives, des informations qualitatives ont été collectées auprès des groupes cibles et autres informateurs clés. Read More...

Gender Equality and Women Empowerment Program, GEWEP II 2016-2018 Burundi, Final Evaluation Report, March 2019

The final evaluation of GEWEP II (a women's empowerment program implemented since 2016 in 7 provinces of Burundi and funded by NORAD via CARE Norway) set out to gauge the progress made but also identify the gaps that remain to be filled for the impact group (women aged 15-64 in the intervention area) to enjoy effective economic, social and political empowerment. The evaluation allowed a comparative study of the baseline situation (just as presented in the report of the baseline study) and the final situation resulting from the analysis of data collected on the ground in January 2018. The final evaluation data collection was conducted on a quantitative sample representative of 774 people including 406 women and 368 men. In addition to these quantitative data, qualitative data were collected from target groups and other key informants. [39 pages] Read More...

Women’s Empowerment Program (WEP) Midterm Report

In 2009, Norad-funded women empowerment programs (WEPs) started implementation in seven countries: Burundi, Mali, Myanmar, Niger, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. In 2009 and early 2010, an extensive quantitative baseline study was conducted in these countries around a common set of indicators. The present mid-term review (MTR), which was done using qualitative methodology, analysed in depth the process and nature of changes that the programs are contributing towards. In all the program countries, the country WEP team carried out the review internally with the technical assistance of an external consultant and CARE Norway (CN).

With slight variations, the overall objectives of the country WEPs focused on the economic, social, and political empowerment of women. The village savings and loan association (VSLA) methodology was common for all the programs; and these groups create the platform for working on other aspects of the program besides economic empowerment. The initial changes that the programs produce are seen in terms of increased access to savings and loans, employment opportunities, and asset ownership. The ability of the women to earn income, generate their own savings and make financial contributions in the household (HH) has greatly improved their self-esteem, thereby giving them better leverage to involve in and influence HH decision making processes. Men were highly appreciative of the income women were able to bring in to the family as a result of being involved in VSLAs. Through their improved position in the household, women reported being able to negotiate the use of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services and the abandonment of different harmful practices. Through the use of couples-based approach and engaging men initiatives, HH relationships are beginning to improve; men in these households are reportedly starting to have a more positive attitude towards women’s empowerment and are themselves even taking part in domestic activities in some contexts. The VSLA approach is enabling women to create strong social networks that are becoming an influential force for social change. As a result of increased knowledge on their human rights and increasing leadership skills, women are beginning to understand how they have to position themselves to realize their strategic interests. The VSLA groups and networks also enable women to mobilise support when they are running for elections; this support has increased number of women being elected into different posts. The contribution of women in VSLAs and in community leadership positions is being increasingly recognised and appreciated by local authority figures, which can be seen when they actively seek the advice of women and VSL groups in relation to different community development initiatives.
Through working in partnership with others, the programs are being implemented in a high quality and timely manner. Engagement with strategic partners has occurred effectively in some countries, and been instrumental in enabling the programs to link grassroots evidence to national level advocacy activities which have achieved concrete results. [52 pages] Read More...

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