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New WOCCU site matches savings combats poverty
MADISON, Wis. (2/23/09)--The World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) has launched MatchSavings.org to give the public an opportunity to combat global poverty in a new way by matching the savings deposits of the poor in the developing world.
Celia Ortiz Ramos, a housewife and mother of one, is saving to repair drafty wooden walls in her kitchen. MatchSavings.org Givers will help her achieve the goal sooner by providing a savings match. (Photo provided by World Council of Credit Unions)
Despite the critical need for personal savings, the poor in developing countries are more likely to have access to loans than to basic savings accounts, WOCCU said. As tough economic times hit the developed world, foreign aid to developing countries is declining, fewer immigrants can afford to send funds home and employment opportunities are disappearing. With the costs of living continuing to rise, the need for reliable savings becomes increasingly vital, WOCCU said. People living in poverty are desperate to find affordable and accessible alternatives to cover necessary expenses like basic home repair, their children’s education, start-up expenses for a microbusiness and healthcare. A formal credit union savings account and a match incentive help working poor families develop regular savings habits, build assets and attain financial independence, WOCCU said. “Savings are about building wealth,” said Brian Branch, WOCCU executive vice president and chief operating officer. “Families are able to and want to build their savings because that provides them with a way to finance their own growth.” MatchSavings.org builds on WOCCU's global development programs. The first group of MatchSavings.org Savers is from rural Mexico, where WOCCU is helping credit unions deliver financial services by motorcycle, bus, boat and foot, directly to marginalized communities. Here's how MatchSavings.org works:
* Savers open their first savings account at one of WOCCU's partner credit unions in a developing country--currently rural Mexico. Savers establish a six-month savings goal and commit to make regular monthly deposits. * Givers go to MatchSavings.org, choose which types of savings accounts they want to match (housing, education, microbusiness or health) and make a donation. * At the end of the saving period, savers receive the givers’ match on their savings principal, realize their savings goal and become members of a credit union that will help them reach their financial goals in the future.
As the effects of the economic downturn ripple across borders, givers at MatchSavings.org create a counter-effort. Givers’ generosity allows the poor to lift themselves out of poverty through their own efforts and helps them get on a solid path for future, WOCCU said. As MatchSavings.org grows, WOCCU will expand the program to reach more people, communities and countries through its global network of credit unions. Participants can spread the word through their credit union, service groups, social networks, friends and family. Credit unions are not being asked to give to the program, but rather to promote it, WOCCU said. Start-up money for the program is coming from private donations to WOCCU’s foundation. For more information and to make a donation, use the link.
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