Over 3,600 people meet together in 168 community savings and lending groups. These groups are located in Kitwe, Ndola, Mufulira, Lusaka and Chongwe. Members of low-income communities are systematically blocked from participating in the formal economy. In order to invest in small businesses, pay school fees, medical bills, or funerals, people need capital. Community savings groups provide an alternative to loan sharks. They charge exorbitant interest rates (sometimes even over 60%).
PLAEP now has over one hundred and sixty Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA) using the Grassroots Building Our Wealth Self Help Groups (GROW SHG) model. About 20 people, mostly women, gather and save money together. This enables them to offer one another loans at affordable interest rates. With these loans, members are able to start small businesses and increase their own income. They are able to then save for their children’s education or for home improvements. e.g. flushing toilets and electricity. After a year, the GROW SHG equitably shares out their savings and interest. All members benefit from their yearlong saving. There are a total of 360 men and over 3,300 women participating in the savings groups.