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Impoverished People Discover Ways to Provide

Impoverished People

Impoverished people who have long struggled to support themselves and their families are discovering creative ways to provide an income. At SALT* savings group meetings, members learn Bible-based business principles and work together to collectively save money. As the savings accumulate, the group decides who should receive a loan and what the terms should be. The loan recipient is then able to start or expand a small business to help provide for themselves. Each group member eventually has a turn to receive a small loan.

In addition to business teaching, SALT meetings provide an open door to teach God’s Word. Many SALT group members are learning about Jesus for the first time.

*SALT is an acronym for Shared Accountability, Lending, and Teaching.

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SALT savings groups expand in Myanmar

Myanmar

SALT savings group members in Myanmar are excited about the gradual change they see happening. “Before the savings group started, I was borrowing money with 30 percent interest,” said Ma Pi, a widow with five children. She said saving money has helped meet her family’s daily needs and she no longer needs to borrow from others at high interest. “I have many reasons to save in this group,” continued Ma Pi. “For example, for health problems or personal difficulties.”

The SALT program continues to expand as funding is available and opportunities arise. In Myanmar, SALT savings groups continue to grow. This impoverished country in southeast Asia is rich in natural resources, but it is one of the most economically depressed countries in Asia. As one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries, Myanmar often faces floods, cyclones, earthquakes, landslides, and droughts.

Why are SALT savings groups needed in Myanmar?

  • Bible-based teaching is greatly needed. Approximately 87 percent of Myanmar’s population is Buddhist, while a mere 6.2 percent profess to be Christian. SALT savings groups create a platform to provide a steady diet of Christ-centered teaching.
  • Savings groups teach responsibility and accountability. Our goal for SALT savings groups is to provide a setting where people can learn to responsibly manage their resources. High levels of accountability and frequent meetings help build this trait.
  • Many people depend on high-interest loans and have not learned to save. Loans from other sources have exorbitant interest rates. Many bank loans are hard to get and have interest rates of over 6 percent. Some people even resort to “loan sharks” and pay as much as 20 to 30 percent interest monthly!

Ten SALT savings groups are operating in Myanmar. Group members are learning Bible truths as well as ways to improve their businesses. “Because of the lessons, my business is better than before and I am selling more,” says Khin Ma Ma (pictured below). “I didn’t understand much about business before. Even if I can’t read the lessons, I can listen as others read them. The lessons are the best thing for me.”

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SALT 2018 review

SALT 2018 review
SALT 2018 review
SALT started in the African countries of Namibia and Mozambique.
SALT 2018 review
$74.15 was the average accumulated saving per savings group member (January – November)
SALT 2018 review
Over 234,000 hours of Biblical teaching at SALT meetings. We commit the spiritual harvest to God,who has promised that His Word will accomplish its purpose.
SALT 2018 review
30,780 savings group members and microloan clients benefited from the program. There were 27,038 clients at the end of 2017.
SALT 2018 review
The Salt & Light program was launched to provide Bible-based financial teaching here in the US.
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Microloans, Bible lessons, and a way forward

Microloan

My husband and I recently accompanied the SALT team to a microloan disbursement meeting in a poor neighborhood of Tipitapa, Nicaragua. This microloan group started when Juan, a man from this area, asked CAM for money for woodworking tools. Our staff told him why we don’t just hand out money and informed him about the SALT program. Inspired, Juan then helped to get a microloan group started.

Prior to the loan disbursement meeting, Juan and twenty-nine of his neighbors convened every other week for two months for an introductory course. They learned about the commitment and criteria involved in getting a SALT microloan.

During the introductory course, Juan became impatient for his loan and almost dropped out. But he decided to stick with it. At the end of two months, only eight individuals out of the original thirty were willing to commit!

The big day

The day of the meeting was a happy day because the loan money was going to be disbursed. But first, the group needed to decide on a fee for tardiness or absence at meetings. The proposed fees ranged from thirty cents to one dollar; one dollar is a very steep fine for such a poor village! They finally decided on thirty cents for tardiness and forty-five cents for absence.

Juan and the other members then received their loans. The members of this group aspire to use their loans for various enterprises: selling hygiene products or buying corn to make tortillas. Juan plans to buy cheese in bulk and resell it. He hopes to save his profits to buy woodworking equipment.

Ongoing accountability

Every other week, this microloan group has an accountability meeting. The SALT team conducts a Bible study and the members make the required payments on their loans. They aim to pay off the loans in six months.

If clients continue for three more six-month loan cycles, they will have studied fifty-two Bible lessons while also learning about finances. After that, they should be able to go forward independently, implementing the practical principles they learned.