CARE (Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere)

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CARE (Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere, formerly Cooperative for American Remittances to Europe[1]) is a major international humanitarian agency delivering emergency relief and long-term international development projects. Founded in 1945, CARE is nonsectarian, impartial, and non-governmental. It is one of the largest and oldest humanitarian aid organizations focused on fighting global poverty. In 2016, CARE reported working in 94 countries, supporting 962 poverty-fighting projects and humanitarian aid projects, and reaching over 80 million people and 256 million people indirectly.[2]


CARE’s programmes in the developing world address a broad range of topics including emergency response, food security, water and sanitation, economic development, climate change, agriculture, education, and health. CARE also advocates at the local, national, and international levels for policy change and the rights of poor people. Within each of these areas, CARE focuses particularly on empowering and meeting the needs of women and girls and promoting gender equality.[2]


CARE International is a confederation of fourteen CARE National Members, each of which is registered as an autonomous non-profit non-governmental organization in the country and four affiliate members. The fourteen CARE National Members are CARE Australia, CARE Canada, CARE Denmark, CARE Deutschland-Luxembourg, CARE France, CARE India, CARE International Japan, CARE Nederland, CARE Norge, CARE Österreich, Raks Thai Foundation (CARE Thailand), CARE International UK, CARE USA, and CARE Peru. Programs in developing countries are usually managed by a Country Office, but CARE also supports projects and may respond to emergencies in some countries where they do not maintain a full Country Office.[3] The four affiliates are CARE Egypt, CARE Indonesia, CARE Morocco, and Chrysalis (CARE in Sri Lanka).



1945–1949: Origins and the CARE Package

A CARE Package shipped in 1948.

CARE, then the Cooperative for American Remittances to Europe,[3] was formally founded on November 27, 1945, and was originally intended to be a temporary organization.[4] World War II had ended in August of the same year. After pressure from the public and Congress, President Harry S. Truman agreed to let private organizations provide relief for those starving due to the war. [5] CARE was initially a consortium of twenty-two American charities (a mixture of civic, religious, cooperative, farm, and labour organizations) with the purpose of delivering food aid to Europe in the aftermath of World War II.[6] The organization delivered its first food packages in 1946.[3]



CARE’s food aid took the form of CARE Packages, which were at first delivered to specific individuals: Americans paid $10 to send a CARE Package of food to a loved one in Europe, often a family member. President Truman bought the first CARE package[7]:p.1 CARE guaranteed delivery within four months to anyone in Europe, even if they had left their last known address, and returned a signed delivery receipt to the sender.[8] Because European postal services were unreliable at the time these signed receipts were sometimes the first confirmation that the recipient had survived the war.[6]


The first CARE Packages were in fact surplus “Ten-in-One” US army rations packs (designed to contain a day’s meals for ten people).[4] In early 1946 CARE purchased 2.8 million of these warehoused rations packs, originally intended for the invasion of Japan, and began advertising in America. On May 11, 1946, six months after the agency’s incorporation, the first CARE Packages were delivered in Le Havre, France.[6] These packages contained staples such as canned meats, powdered milk, dried fruits, and fats along with a few comfort items such as chocolate, coffee, and cigarettes. (Several on the CARE Board of Directors wished to remove the cigarettes, but it was deemed impractical to open and reseal 2.8 million boxes.)[6] 1946 also marked CARE’s first expansion out of the US with the establishment of an office in Canada.[9]


By early 1947 the supply of “Ten-in-One” ration packs had been exhausted and CARE began assembling its own packages.[4] These new packages were designed with the help of a nutritionist. They did not include cigarettes and were tailored somewhat by destination: Kosher packages were developed, and for example packages for the United Kingdom included tea rather than coffee, and packages for Italy included pasta. By 1949 CARE offered and shipped more than twelve different packages.[4]


Although the organization had originally intended to deliver packages only to specified individuals, within a year CARE began delivering packages addressed for example “to a teacher” or simply “to a hungry person in Europe.”[6]:p.18 These unspecified donations continued and in early 1948 CARE’s Board voted narrowly to officially move towards unspecified donations and to expand into more general relief. Some founding member agencies disagreed with this shift, arguing that more general relief would be a duplication of the work of other agencies, but donors reacted favourably, contributions increased, and this decision would mark the beginning of CARE’s shift towards a broader mandate.[4]


Between the first deliveries of 1946 and the last European deliveries of 1956, millions of CARE Packages were distributed throughout Europe, over 50% of them to Germany [9] including many delivered as part of the Berlin airlift in response to the 1948 Soviet blockade of Berlin.[6]


The US Agricultural Act of 1949 made surplus US agricultural products available to be shipped abroad as aid either directly by the US government or by NGOs including CARE.[6] In 1954 Public Law 480, also known as the Food for Peace Act, further expanded the availability of surplus US food as aid.[4] This act allowed CARE to expand its feeding programs and disaster relief operations considerably, and between 1949 and 2009 CARE used hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of surplus commodities in disaster relief and programs such as school lunch provision.[6]


1949–1956: Transition out of Europe

Although the organization’s mission had originally been focused on Europe, in July 1948 CARE opened its first non-European mission, in Japan.[4] Deliveries to China and Korea followed, which CARE described as aid to areas “implicated by WWII”.[10]:p.119 In 1949 CARE entered the developing world for the first time, launching programs in the Philippines. Projects in India, Pakistan, and Mexico began soon after.[6] 1949 also marked CARE’s first expansion into non-food aid with the development of “self-help” packages containing tools for farming, carpentry, and other trades.[4] In 1953, because of its expansion to projects outside Europe, CARE changed the meaning of its acronym to “Cooperative for American Remittances to Everywhere”.[4]


As Europe recovered economically, CARE faced the need to re-evaluate its mission: in 1955 several Board members argued that with the European recovery CARE’s mandate was finished and the organization should dissolve. Other Board members however felt that CARE’s mission should continue albeit with a new focus on the developing world.[10] In July 1955 the Board of Directors voted to continue and expand CARE projects outside of Europe. Paul French, CARE’s executive director at the time, resigned over the debate. New executive director Richard W. Reuter took over in 1955 and helped lead the organization in a new direction.[11] Twenty-two of CARE’s forty-two missions were closed, mostly in European countries, and efforts were concentrated on food distribution and emergency response in the developing world.[4] In 1956 CARE distributed food to refugees of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, and this would be among the last of CARE’s operations in Europe for many years

1957–1975: Transition into broader development work

CARE commemorative U.S. stamp

With a broadened geographic focus came a broadened approach as CARE began to expand beyond its original food distribution program. In order to reflect these new broader aims, in 1959 CARE changed the meaning of its acronym a second time, becoming the “Cooperative for American Relief Everywhere”.[4] Reflecting this broadened scope, CARE became involved in 1961 with President John F. Kennedy’s establishment of the Peace Corps. CARE was charged with selecting and training the first group of volunteers, who would later be deployed to development projects in Colombia. The Peace Corps assumed greater control over the training of Peace Corps Volunteers in subsequent missions, but CARE continued to provide country directors to the Peace Corps until CARE-Peace Corps joint projects ended in 1967.[4]


In 1962 CARE merged with and absorbed the medical aid organization MEDICO, which it had been working closely with for several years previously. The merger considerably increased CARE’s capacity to deliver health programming including trained medical personnel and medical supplies.[4]


During this transition the original CARE Package was phased out.[4] The last food package was delivered in 1967 and the last tools package in 1968.[12] Over 100 million CARE Packages had been delivered worldwide since the first shipment to France.[13] Although 1968 marked the official “retirement” of the CARE Package the format would occasionally be used again, for example in CARE’s relief to the republics of the former Soviet Union and to survivors of the Bosnian War.[14] The concept was also revived in 2011 as an online campaign encouraging donors to fill a “virtual CARE Package” with food aid and services such as education and healthcare.[15]


1967 also marked CARE’s first partnership agreement with a government: for the construction of schools in Honduras. Partnership agreements with governments led programmes to become country-wide rather than targeted only to a few communities. CARE’s programmes during this era focused largely on the construction of schools and nutrition centres, and the continued distribution of food. Nutrition centres in particular would become one of CARE’s major areas of concentration, linking with school feeding programs and nutrition education aimed at new mothers.[4]


In 1975 CARE implemented a multi-year planning system, again allowing programmes to become both broader and deeper in scope. Projects became increasingly multi-faceted, providing for example not only health education but also access to clean water and an agricultural program to improve nutrition. The multi-year planning system also increased the scope for country-wide projects and partnerships with local governments. A 1977 project for example provided for the construction of over 200 pre-schools and kindergartens throughout Chile over several years, jointly funded by CARE and the Chilean Ministry of Education.[4]

1975–1990: From CARE to CARE International

Although CARE had opened an office in Canada in 1946, it was not until the mid-1970s that the organization truly started to become an international body.[9] CARE Canada (initially Care of Canada) became an autonomous body in 1973. In 1976 CARE Europe was established in Bonn following the successful fund-raising campaign “Dank an CARE” (Thanks to CARE). In 1981 CARE Germany was created and CARE Europe moved its headquarters to Paris.[4] CARE Norway had been created in 1980,[16] and CAREs in Italy and the UK were established. The popularity of CARE offices in Europe was attributed to the fact that many Europeans remembered receiving CARE assistance themselves between 1945 and 1955.[4]

In 1979 planning began for the establishment of an umbrella organization to coordinate and prevent duplication among the various national CARE organizations. This new body was named CARE International and met for the first time on January 29, 1982, with CARE Canada, CARE Germany, CARE Norway, and CARE USA (formerly simply CARE) in attendance.[4]

CARE International would expand significantly during the 1980s, with the addition of CARE France in 1983;[17] CARE International UK in 1985;[18] CARE Austria in 1986;[19] and CARE Australia, CARE Denmark, and CARE Japan in 1987.

1990–present: Recent history

Along with broader development work CARE’s projects in the 1980s and early 1990s focused particularly on agroforestry initiatives such as reforestation and soil conservation in eastern Africa and South America. CARE also responded to a number of major emergencies during this period, notably the 1983–1985 famine in Ethiopia and the 1991-1992 famine in Somalia.[4]


The 1990s also saw an evolution in CARE’s approach to poverty. Originally CARE had viewed poverty primarily as a lack of basic goods and services such as food, clean water, and health care. As CARE’s scope expanded both geographically and topically this approach was expanded to include the view that poverty was in many cases caused by social exclusion, marginalization, and discrimination. In the early 1990s CARE adopted a household livelihood security framework which included a multidimensional view of poverty as encompassing not only physical resources but also social position and human capacities. As a result of this, by 2000, CARE had adopted a rights-based approach to development.[13]


One of their buildings was attacked, and people were killed and wounded, during the September 2016 Kabul attacks.



In the early 1990s CARE also developed what would become an important model for cooperative microfinance.


This model is called the Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) and it began in 1991 as a pilot project run by CARE’s Country Office in Niger.[23] The pilot project was called Mata Masu Dubara (MMD) and CARE Niger developed the VSLA model by adapting the model of Accumulating Savings and Credit Associations (ASCAs). VSLAs involve groups of about 15-30 people who regularly save and borrow using a group fund. Member savings create capital that can be used for short-term loans and capital and interest is shared among the group at the end of a given period (usually about a year), at which point the groups normally re-form to begin a new cycle. Because the bookkeeping required to manage a VSLA is quite simple most groups successfully become independent (needing no outside management help) within a year and enjoy a high rate of long-term group survival.[24] CARE has created over 40,000 VSLAs (over 1 million members total) across Africa, Asia, and Latin America[23] and in 2008 launched Access Africa which aims to extend VSLA training to 39 African countries by 2018.[25]


The model has also been widely replicated in Africa and Asia and by other large NGOs including Oxfam, Plan International, and Catholic Relief Services.[26]


CARE UK later launched, which allows members of the public to make microloans, including green loans, to entrepreneurs in Africa and Asia. It avoids many of the criticisms levelled at


Acronym redefinition and 50th anniversary

In 1993 CARE, to reflect its international organizational structure, changed the meaning of its acronym for a third time, adopting its current name the “Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere”. CARE also marked its 50th anniversary in 1994.[13]


CARE expanded the confederation to twelve members in the early 2000s, with CARE Netherlands (formerly the Disaster Relief Agency) joining in 2001[27] and CARE Thailand (called the Raks Thai Foundation) joining in 2003, becoming the first CARE National Member in a developing country.[28]


CARE’s well-known “I am Powerful” campaign launched in the USA in September 2006 and was intended to bring public attention to the organization’s long-standing focus on women’s empowerment.[13] CARE states that its programs focus on women and girls both because the world’s poor are disproportionately female and because women’s empowerment is thought to be an important driver of development. CARE also emphasizes that it considers working with boys and men an important part of women’s empowerment, and that women’s empowerment benefits both genders.[2]


In 2007 CARE announced that by 2009 it would no longer accept certain types of US food aid worth some $45 million a year, arguing that these types of food aid are inefficient and harmful to local markets.[29][30] Specifically, CARE announced that it would forego all monetized food aid (surplus US food shipped to charities in the developing world who then sell the food on the local market to finance development projects)[30] and all food aid intended to establish a commercial advantage for the donor, and would increase its commitment to buying food aid locally.[31] CARE also announced that it would no longer accept USDA food through Title 1 (concessional sales) or Section 416 (surplus disposal) because these programs are intended mainly to establish a commercial advantage for US agriculture.[31]


In 2011 CARE added its first Affiliate Member, CARE India, and in 2012 the CI board accepted CARE Peru as CARE’s second Affiliate Member.[2] CARE India became a full member in November 2013. The CI board accepted CARE Peru as a full member of the confederation in June 2015.


CARE is currently one of the only major NGOs to make their database of project evaluations publicly available, and to regularly conduct a meta-analysis of evaluation methodologies and overall organizational impact.[32][33]


Presidents of CARE

Clarence Picket, temporary chairman 1945[34]


Murray Lincoln, President 1945 – 1957[34]


Harold S. Miner, President 1957 – 1978 [35]


CARE today

CARE currently takes care of variety of issues, that range from cleaning up disaster stricken places to work on curing AIDS.


CARE’s structure

CARE International is a confederation of fourteen CARE National Members, coordinated by the CARE International Secretariat. The Secretariat is based in Geneva, Switzerland, with offices in New York and in Brussels in order to liaise with the United Nations and the European institutions respectively.[36]


Each CARE National Member is an autonomous non-governmental organization registered in the country, and each Member runs programs, fundraising, and communications activities both in its own country and in developing countries where CARE operates. There are fourteen National Members. The fourteen CARE National Members are:[36]

Emergency respons

CARE supports emergency relief as well as prevention, preparedness, and recovery programs. In 2016, CARE reportedly reached more than 7.2 million people through its humanitarian response.CARE’s core sectors for emergency response are Food Security, Shelter, WASH and Sexual & Reproductive Health. CARE is a signatory of major international humanitarian standards and codes of conduct including the Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs in Disaster Relief, the Sphere standards, and the Humanitarian Accountability Partnership (HAP) principles and standards.

Networks and partnerships[edit]

CARE is a signatory to the following standards of humanitarian intervention: the Code of Conduct for The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs in Disaster Relief,[39] the Sphere standards,[40] and the Core Humanitarian Standard[41] As well, CARE is a member of a number of networks aiming to improve the quality and coordination of humanitarian aid: The Emergency Capacity Building Project (ECB),[42] The Consortium of British Humanitarian Agencies (CBHA),[43] the Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance in Humanitarian Action (ALNAP),[44] the Steering Committee for Humanitarian Response (SHCR),[45] the International Council for Voluntary Agencies (ICVA),[46] and the INGO Accountability Charter.[47] CARE also regularly engages in joint advocacy campaigns with other major NGOs. The Global Campaign for Climate Change Action is one example.[48]


  1. CARE’s History | Care International
  2. to:a b c d e f g h “Annual Report 2013” (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-02-19.
  3. to:a b “‘Father’ of CARE Hailed On Its 12th Anniversary”. New York Times. May 14, 1958. Retrieved November 13, 2013.
  4. to:a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w O’Keefe L, Drew J, Bailey L, Ford M. (1991). “Guide to the Records of CARE” (PDF). New York Public Library.
  5. “How Much Famine is “Policy Made”?”. Saturday Evening Post. 1946. Retrieved February 19, 2015.
  6. to:a b c d e f g h i j Morris D. (1996) A Gift From America: The First 50 Years of CARE. Longstreet Press. Atlanta, Georgia. ISBN 1-56352-285-3
  7. “Richard D. McKinzie (1975) “Oral History Interview with Arthur Ringland ” Truman Library, p1(10-11)”. Retrieved June 11, 2014.
  8. “Goldberg A. (1947) “Surplus Army Rations Gone, CARE Adopts Own Packages for Hungry.” The Palm Beach Post, April 17, 1947″. April 17, 1947. Retrieved June 11, 2014.
  9. to:a b c Henry K. (1999) “CARE International: Evolving to Meet the Challenges of the 21st Century.” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly. 28: 109
  10. to:a b Barnett M (2011) Empire of Humanity: A History of Humanitarianism. Cornell University Press
  11. Saxon, Wolfgang (January 13, 2005). “Richard W. Reuter, Executive at Relief Agencies, Dies at 86”The New York Times.
  12. “CARE Package: Then and Now”.
  13. to:a b c d Rangan K, Lee K (2008). “Repositioning CARE USA” (PDF). Harvard Business School. (Case Study)
  14. “CARE packages prevented starvation in post-war Germany”. DW. Retrieved February 19, 2015.
  15. Strom, S. (March 8, 2011). “CARE, in Return To Roots, Will Offer Virtual Packages”. The New York Times. p. 8. Retrieved June 20, 2012.
  16. to:a b “CARE – CAREs historie”. Archived from the original on July 1, 2014. Retrieved June 11, 2014.
  17. to:a b “ONG CARE France | Association de solidarité internationale”. September 2, 2013. Retrieved June 11, 2014.
  18. to:a b “Our history | CARE International United Kingdom | One of the world’s leading poverty charities | CARE International United King”. May 11, 1946. Retrieved June 11, 2014.
  19. to:a b “CARE in Österreich”. Retrieved June 11, 2014.
  20. to:a b “CARE Australia History”. Retrieved February 19, 2015.
  21. to:a b “CARE’s History | Who is care? | CARE International Japan”. Retrieved June 11, 2014.
  22. to:a b [1] Archived February 8, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  23. to:a b Hamadziripi, A. (2008). “Village Savings and Loans Associations in Niger: Mata Masu Dubara Model of Remote Outreach” (PDF). COADY International Institute, St Francis Xavier University.
  24. Anyango E, Esipisu E, Opoku L, Johnson S, Malkamaki M, Musoke C (2007). “Village Savings and Loan Associations – experience from Zanzibar.” Small Enterprise Development, 18:1 p11-24(14). Commissioned by DFID & Decentralized Financial Services” (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-06-06.
  25. “Micro finance Africa Report” (PDF).
  26. Allen H, Panetta D (2010). “Savings Groups: What Are They?” (PDF). The SEEP Network.
  27. to:a b [2] Archived November 21, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  28. to:a b “Thailand”. CARE. Retrieved June 11, 2014.
  29. Dugger, C. (August 16, 2007). “CARE Turns down Federal Funds for Food Aid”. New York Times.
  30. to:a b Harrell, Eben (August 15, 2007). “CARE Says No Thanks to U.S. Food Aid”. TIME. Retrieved June 11, 2014.
  31. to:a b “White Paper on Food Aid Policy” (PDF). 2006.
  32. “CARE”. GiveWell. May 10, 2010. Retrieved June 11, 2014.
  33. Home – Welcome to CARE International’s Electronic Evaluation Library (EEL)Archived 2012-10-09 at the Wayback Machine.
  34. to:a b Campbell, Wallace J. (1990). The History of CARE: A Personal Account Wallace J. Campbell. New York: Praeger. p. 20.
  35. Campbell, Wallace (1990). The History of CARE: A Personal Account. New York: Praeger. p. 78.
  36. to:a b “Global Network”.
  37. “CARE India”.
  38. “CARE Netherlands”.
  39. “Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs in Disaster Relief List of signatories” (PDF). IFRC. 2011.
  40. “Board organizations | Governance”. The Sphere Project. Retrieved June 11, 2014.
  42. “The Emergency Capacity Building Project (ECB)”. Retrieved June 11,2014.
  43. “The Consortium of British Humanitarian Agencies”. Retrieved February 19, 2015.
  44. “Full and Associate members”. ALNAP. Retrieved June 11, 2014.
  45. “IASC – Inter-Agency Standing Committee”. Archived from the original on March 6, 2014. Retrieved June 11, 2014.
  46. “List of ICVA Member Agencies | International Council of Voluntary Agencies”. Archived from the original on January 28, 2007. Retrieved June 11, 2014.
  47. “INGO Accountability”.
  48. “Partners » TckTckTck | The Global Call for Climate Action”. Retrieved June 11, 2014.


ROSCAs in China



Hui (simplified Chinese: 会; traditional Chinese: 會) refers to a group-based rotating saving and credit scheme that is popular among many people in China. Biao Hui (标会) is the Chinese verb when someone is engaging or participating in Hui.


How it works?
The basic premise of the model is a group of close friends and family members coming together once a month and contributing a fixed amount of the money into a money pool. Every time, one member of the group will be chosen to withdraw the entire lump sum from the pool, often for purpose of down payments towards houses or cars or to start a new business. When the same group of people comes together again in the subsequent month contributing the same fixed amount, another member of the group will be chosen to take the lump sum. This process is repeated until every member in the group had a chance to withdraw the lump sum in a given month.

A particular Hui is usually initiated by a trusted figure/influencer within a community. This person is considered as the group leader and is in charge of recruiting and vetting all participating members. While other participants can also vouch and extend the invite to their friends and family members, their participation still requires approval of the group leader. The group leader is usually held responsible for any frauds, embezzlement or defaults within the group, should anyone fail to follow through on their commitment. In this case, the group leader has to cover the losses with their own money to make all other group members whole.
Typically, group leaders will host all of group members at his/her residence to collect everyone’s monthly contribution and facilitate any borrowing requests. To compensate for group leader’s risk and hard work, he/she often has the priority in borrowing the money from the group on any given month when needed. In fact, this is one of the main reasons one become a group leader of a hui, to fulfil his/her upcoming financing needs.


Differences to other schemes
Unlike similar schemes in other cultures, where all the savings and borrowing among the group members are interest-free and the order of the withdraw are determined by the group leader, Hui adopts a market-driven interest rate approach: In any given month, all members currently interested in taking the money pot have to submit an interest amount they are willing to pay to the group. Typically the person who is ready to pay the highest interest will receive the pot, with the interest amount being evenly disbursed among the other group members. Typically, the interest payments are higher and more competitive during the early months of the Hui, and tend to decrease towards the end of the Hui.

1. Lulu Chen (22 October 2009). “For Chinese Immigrants, Money Pools Offer a Risky Promise”. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
2. Matthew Forney (15 November 2004). “China’s Shadow Banks”. TIME. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
3. Mark Arax (30 October 1988). “Pooled Cash of Loan Clubs Key to Asian Immigrant Entrepreneurs”. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
4. Shereen Marisol Meraji (6 April 2014). “Lending Circles Help Latinas Pay Bills And Invest”. NPR. Retrieved 18 January 2016.

Rotatory saving and credit associations

A rotatory savings and credit association is a group of people who agree to meet for a certain period of time in order to save money together. This enables everyone in the group to have access to loans. F.J.A. Bouman described ROSCAs as “the poor man’s bank, where money is not idle for long but changes hands rapidly, satisfying both consumption and production needs.”[1]


Application across different cultures

Rotatory saving as a mean to access financial loan is widespread in many regions in the world. It is known as tandas in Latin America, partnerhand in West Indies, cundinas in Mexico, ayuuto in Somalia, hagbad in Somaliland, susu in West Africa and the Caribbean, hui in Asia, palawugang in Philippines, Gam’eya in Middle East, kye in (계) South Korea, tanomosiko in (頼母子講) Japan, pandeiros in Brazil, juntas or quiniela in Peru, C.A.R. Țigănesc/Roata in România, and arisan in Indonesia.

The structure of rotatory saving

The meeting sessions for these groups are based on member’s agreement. At the meeting each member contributes some amount and only one member (loan receiver) gathers all the amounts once. It is usually agreed that the loan receiver pays back the original loan plus a very small interest. This helps members have access to larger loans at the future. Since each transaction is seen by all the members and no money is kept, there is high transparency and trust inside such groups.

These groups have two very important features that give the low-income class of a society extra benefit. One, normally due to the unstable economics and inflationary conditions in some societies, purchase power for an accumulated saving is gone or weakened. A rotatory saving group provides loan is relatively shorter time and easier process to the loan applicants. Two, credit associations and banks mostly prevent to serve credit worthy borrowers due to operation costs, regulations or other reasons. Meanwhile in a rotatory saving group the members known as highly creditable.

Usually the members in these groups select each other; this ensures the security and trust among the members. In some countries, Brazil for instance, a third party agent or intermediary hemps forming the group and process the continuous affairs. This is what Care organization is doing in some parts of the world. They provide a simple lockbox, train agents to teach VSLA groups and administrate this ongoing process till the end of each loan cycle.

How Care organization works on international development?

Care has spread standardized Accumulating Saving and Credit Associations (ASCAs) to reach 2 million people in Africa[2]. These standardized ASCAs are called Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs), and they usually comprise 10 to 20 participants who conduct saving and loan activities for a fixed period, usually 12 months. Unlike informal ASCAs, these use a triple-locked box to secure the funds, have standardized election procedures and maintain a careful separation of various duties, such as record-keeping, money-counting, meeting facilitation etc. Interest rates on loans typically vary from 5-10% a month, while cycle-end pay-outs in most groups range from 30-60% of invested capital[3].

As of the end of June 2012 development agencies (including CARE, Oxfam, CRS and PLAN) were carrying out projects reaching 1.8 million members in 23 countries, mostly in Africa. The Savings Group Information Exchange, a project of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, provides researchers with an on-line database where indicators like savings and loans per member, country, return on assets and percentage of female members can be compared.


1. F.J.A. Bouman, Indigenous savings & credit societies in the developing world in Von Pischke, Adams & Donald (eds.) Rural Financial Markets in the Developing World World Bank, Washington, 1983
2. William J. Grant & Hugh Allen. CARE’s Mata Matsu Dubara (Women on the Move) Program in Niger. Journal of Microfinance, Brigham Young School of Business, Provo, Utah, Fall, 2002.
3. Hugh Allen and Mark Staehle. Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) Programme Guide, Field Operations Manual. VSL Associates, Solingen, 2007.

What is Village Saving and Loan Association program ?

vsla members
Micro loans that change lives

What is VSLA?

Village Saving and Loan Association is small groups of people who save their money together and by turn make use of these saving as a loan. As this activity goes on, saving become more accumulated hence members can earn more profit. In comparison with conventional financial services, VSLA provides a relatively simpler procedure for loan applicants.

Informal ways of saving among groups has been going on for years in numerous parts of the world. VSLA provides a clearer way of loan payment. This is a flexible method which can easily be implemented in rural regions to empower the local people.

There is usually a committee member team which is elected every year by the members. The committee members have clear roles but not limited. This is to make sure everyone plays a role in the whole system.

Every group has around 15 to 25 members which voluntarily choose to be in the group. Every week the group members meet and they decide to purchase a share in order to save.  The share price is determined by the group.

flexible saving scheme

Since the saving is flexible across the members, the system is very simple but is strong. The members do not have to save as much as each other. This allows the members with lower income to save more frequently though smaller.


All savings are accumulated in form of loan which members can borrow later. Each member can borrow as much as three times their individual savings. Loans are for a maximum period of 90 days in the first year and loans may be repaid in flexible instalments at a monthly service charge which is determined by the group.

social loan

Social loan is a new service that provides members with a basic form of insurance. This loan functions as a community safety and may serve is special occasions – such as emergency assistance – for the entire community which includes members and non-members. Social fund is not aimed to grow, but is set a level which covers basic needs.


The VSLA group does not use a complex accounting system. To record the individual saving and loan liabilities of the members, VSLA passbooks are used. This is appropriate for members with limited literacy. The Lock box contains the material, passbooks, loan funds and social funds which is safeguarded by the group box-keeper between meeting.

Swissjumprope as an athletic campaign, seeks to support women. Through the VSLA program which has been started by Care organization since 1991, you can read more about VSLA  or start donating online through Care’s international secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland .