Saturday, December 19, 2009

a shilling saved...

The One Mango Tree Savings Program started out to solve a problem. On trips to Gulu, I often had a line of ladies out the office door asking for loans for various things - medical bills, advance payment on rent, buying school uniforms for children, etc. I realized that our tailors really were making enough money in their monthly wages to cover these relatively small expenses - so why were they always coming to me?

After a some questioning, I learned two very important things about our tailors:

1) they didn't know how to create a family budget, and
2) they didn't know how to save.

The OMT Savings Program has proven to be a success for #2. Each woman agreed that One Mango Tree would withhold 15% of her monthly earnings. On monthly pay stubs, we break down the earnings like this:

1) total labor earned
2) monthly savings
3) cumulative savings

On payday I often see the women pulling out past pay stubs and lining them up on their sewing tables to check my math. I hide a smile as I walk through the workshop. They love seeing #3 grow, and often compare savings with each other. I decided to up the ante a bit to really boost the incentive for saving - if the women do not withdraw from their savings for one year, One Mango Tree adds 10% of the full amount saved as a bonus. No one has withdrawn from their savings yet, and no one asks me for loans anymore!

Next task: we're putting together a family budgeting class in the local language so that the tailors learn to prioritize their spending and set goals. We'll learn what brings that twinkle to their eyes when they see their savings grow - and help them to realize their dreams. Check out the photo above right - that's Apiyo Prisca's son Isaac, 6, learning money management early on as he buys a sim-sim ball from a young vendor in the market.

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