Widower U Htein Win and his four young children used to live on 3,000 Kyat (about $2) a day. After securing a low-interest loan to buy shrimp traps to grow his fishing business, he now makes at least 5,000 Kyat ($3.33) daily. Sometimes, it’s double from the past. What’s more, he has some savings at the end of the month to reinvest in his shrimping business. Here is how his life changed with CWS support:
U Htein’s wife died four years ago leaving four of his eight children at home while the rest are married and living independently. He is a sole bead winner for the younger children, and relies on fishing for both income and as a source of protein for the family’s daily meals. Since he has his own boat, U Htein has always wanted to diversify into shrimp fishing. However, shrimping requires special traps that he did not own and couldn’t afford to buy not even by borrowing money because, at 10%-15% interest rates, borrowing was simply not possible.
But, when CWS introduced the concept of savings groups in Koe Ein Tan village, which is just about 3 hours West from Yangon, U Htein’s life changed. Since any villager can join the savings group by contributing at least 2,000 Kyat ($1.35) per month, he did. Some savers contribute as much as 9,000 Kyat each month, which helps the shared funds grow faster. And, there is no upper limit to how much people can save within the group.
Once pooled savings are 70,000 Kyat (≈$45) members can approve a loan for that amount, or less, to one of their members at 5% interest with a 3-month payback period. As one of the first to borrow from his 17-member group, U Htein bought 20 shrimp traps by using the maximum amount. Of course, he did the math to be sure he could afford the repayment. “I like this activity! I am already saving about 4,000 Kyat (<$3) monthly from my extra shrimp income. I hope our saving group lasts a long time so I can get another loan for more traps. Thank you, CWS, for showing us how to set up the groups. Our family no longer worries about food, nor about borrowing money at high interest rates”, he commented. The idea that shared savings habits can fund loans – and dreams – for group members is still a wonder to them all, including U Htein, and CWS staff are gratified to see the benefits of this simple initiative which helps ensure there is, family by family, enough for all.
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