Increasing Financial Management Skills in Rural Liberia

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The savings group gathers in a circle, listening attentively to a financial planning training. A dozen posters, signifying months of the year and each portraying a different aspect of the group's activities, serve as visual aids to help clarify the lessons.

A member picks up three rocks and places them on the June poster with a picture of a school on it. That reminds the group to save money for the month school fees are due.


CRS staff attends savings group meeting in Liberia

A CRS project officer conducts a safeguarding awareness session with savings group members in Nimba County, Liberia.

Photo: Photo by Boakai B. Koilor/CRS.


Women in Nimba and Bong counties, like many rural areas in Liberia, face challenges to financial management as well as cultural barriers that affect livelihoods and household decision-making. To help communities overcome these challenges, since 2021 Catholic Relief Services has partnered with the National Adult Education Association of Liberia to implement the Rural Savings for the Future project. This project seeks to foster a culture of savings among rural women and men, create opportunities for access to credit, and support decision-making power, financial literacy and money management.

To bring about this transformative change, the project supports the formation of savings groups in rural Libera using the Savings and Internal Lending Communities methodology developed by CRS. As part of the project, CRS trains field agents and certifies them as private service providers who earn money by helping savings groups thrive.

With their skills and knowledge, the providers have established 36 savings groups, benefiting 897 members in 18 communities across Nimba and Bong counties. The establishment of these groups became the foundation of the project's success. The providers meet with the groups once a week to conduct trainings on how and when to save and invest. Twenty-five of the 36 groups have also received trainings to reshape gender norms that promote equality within households. After these trainings, the group members can begin to save, take loans or share their savings. Each of the activities depends on the stage of their saving cycle.


money being counted in Liberia

During savings group meetings, funds are distributed in front of all group members.

Photo by Boakai B. Koilor/CRS.


“There have been positive changes in my household. Before the savings group, I used to get angry with my wife when she said certain things to me. But through the training, some changes are taking place now. Each time she comes up with things I don’t like, I stay calm. When she’s angry, I don’t get angry in return. I can now include my wife in discussions on money. And this has helped us a lot. All our children are now going to school,” says James Davis, a savings group member in Bong County.

Savings groups operate on values of transparency, collective empowerment and accountability. Members gain knowledge to increase their incomes and all members are allowed to save any amount that they can afford. The group not only saves money but also establishes a fund from which members can borrow at a low-interest rate. Every transaction is conducted and documented in front of all members to ensure transparency and accountability.

“Last year, I borrowed money from my group to expand my farm. Now, I have a bigger farm. We are not afraid to borrow money from the group because the interest is not much,” says Martha Sonkarlay, the chairwoman of a savings group in Nimba County.

The savings, dues and fines collected by the group are shared among the members at the end of the year in proportion to the amount that each member has managed to save in that year.


savings group memeber facing camera in Liberia

Gbarmgo Kpanah is a member of the Balama savings group in Bong County, Liberia.

Photo by Boakai B. Koilor/CRS


“The group is very helpful. I have completed building my house from savings in the group. I would like to advise other women in Suakoko District to join savings groups because it will help them,” says Gbarmgo Kpanah, a member of a group in Bong County.

The CRS Savings and Internal Lending Communities model for savings groups is propelling Liberia toward a future where both men and women in rural areas can thrive and achieve lasting success. Inspired by these remarkable outcomes, CRS is now extending the project’s reach to additional districts and communities across rural Liberia.