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Savings, loans and empowerment: 20-plus years of learning from Pact’s WORTH model

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Pact’s longstanding livelihoods model, WORTH, brings groups of 20–25 members together to establish small community banks, known as WORTH groups, for regular savings and lending. While WORTH typically reaches adult women living in rural areas, it has over time been adapted for different populations, such as adolescent girls and young women through Pact’s WORTH-Y model (WORTH for Youth). Weekly savings and lending meetings are layered with literacy, numeracy and business-oriented skills development. Pooled savings are made available to members through short-term, low-interest loans often used for income-generating activities. Members accumulate assets, diversify their income sources and access much-needed finance, which is particularly helpful for more-marginalized community members, such as women with low levels of education who do not have access to formal financial services. By joining these groups, members strengthen their social and economic networks and contribute to household decision-making and community action. Groups also self-replicate, creating new groups with new members and sharing their WORTH-derived skills. Over time, WORTH alleviates poverty and enhances resilience for group members, their households and communities. The model is often embedded into larger health, governance or other sector programming, reflecting an integrated approach to community development.

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