Khin Thaung, 58 years old joined his village savings bank in 2017 after Cufa staff in Myanmar delivered financial training sessions in his village and has been happy with this decision as he has now built a strong savings habit.
Khin lives with his wife, their two sons and daughter, her husband and their young son. He has been a farmer since he was 22 years old, cultivating rice and betel. His plantation provided profits but Khin did not understand how to save regularly or the benefits of doing so. It was not until Khin was exposed to the Cufa financial knowledge sessions that he knew how to save his money. He opened an account at his local village savings bank and began saving regularly.
Khin said “whenever I check my savings book, I am happy to see my savings and the interest, and it forces me to keep saving”. By attending the Cufa financial sessions, Khin learnt about the benefits of saving money, how to set savings goals and how to calculate interest on his savings. Khin added “the knowledge I learnt helped me build a strong saving habit and I now add money regularly to my savings”.
Khin has shared his newfound financial knowledge and first-hand experience with his friends and neighbours. He has encouraged them to open saving accounts at their local village saving bank. “Having a local savings bank in the village where we live makes us more interested in the bank operations," Khin says. "Moreover, we can share our stories about our village saving bank when we meet our friends from other villages”.
Khin attended at the financial sessions regularly, and he had learnt community audit skills, financial co-operative principles, leadership skills, how to record ledger books, how to calculate savings interest and loan interest. Khin said that a benefit of attending the sessions together with other local villagers was that they became friends and together they would discuss the growth of their businesses.
Khin said that another benefit for members of the local village savings bank is “we can apply loan if we need in our business if we have already made our regular saving bank at least for six months". Khin said that he was approved for a loan that he applied for at his savings bank to help him extend his betel planation fields to increase his income.
Khin has now repaid his loan and he and his family are enjoying increased profits from his rice paddy and betel plantation. Khin now knows the benefits of saving money at a village saving bank and he will continue regularly putting aside some of his income at his village savings bank for future needs.
Main Photo: Kin Thaung, his wife and grandson at their Betel Plantation.
Read more about Cufa’s CUD Program at www.cufa.org.au/our-programs/credit-union-development/
It has been thirteen months Sandar Nan joined the Shwe Taung Kyar Village Saving Bank in Kyar Chaung Village, Myanmar. Early in 2018, Cufa project officers from its Myanmar office came to Sandar’s village and began running financial knowledge sessions as part of its successful Credit Union Development (CUD) Program. Sandar attended the sessions and soon learnt about saving money and the benefits of such before then she did not know or understand what this could mean for her.
Sandar is 32 years old and lives with her parents, her father who is a planter and her mother, a housewife, and her younger brother and sister. She has been interested in agribusiness since she was 21 years old and for the past 11 years Sandar has been cultivating papaya and guava plants and generates profits from her plantation through the sale of her products. Sandar wanted to save some of her money but she just didn’t know how to start. It was not until Cufa came to her village to teach and share financial knowledge and understanding was the “savings seed” planted.
Sandar now knew what she had to do. She opened an account at her village bank and started saving some of her money that she earned from her agribusiness. By attending the Cufa financial knowledge sessions Sandar learnt how to calculate the interest on her savings and how to set savings goals. Sandar said that the feeling of happiness that she felt when she looked at her savings book encouraged to continue saving. In a short period, Sandar had built a strong savings habit and regularly deposited money in her account from her business earnings.
Not only did the sessions teach Sandar about savings but she continued to attend sessions regularly and learnt community audit skills, financial co-operative principles, leadership skills, how to record ledger books, how to calculate savings and loan interest. Sandar shared her new-found knowledge with her friends and neighbours and encouraged them to open accounts at the village savings bank. Through the sessions Sandar and other villagers became friends and would often discuss their business and the growth of such. They would also share the value of their village savings bank provides with friends from other villages.
The village savings bank provides members with the ability to apply for a loan. They must have made regular deposits to their account for at least 6 months to be able to submit a loan application. Sandar was able to apply for a loan which was approved as she had developed a strong savings habit. This loan enabled Sandar to grow her business through purchasing additional plants. She was able to repay her loan to her village bank through the additional profits she generated. Cufa planted the savings seed and Sandar cultivated it and continues to reap the benefits from the financial knowledge she gained through the Cufa program.
Read more about Cufa’s CUD Program at www.cufa.org.au/our-programs
Chit Su is 8 years old and lives with her mother, father and brother in Myanmar. Her father is a farmer and though he doesn’t earn much to support his family, her parents give her some pocket money every day so that she can buy some good food to eat at school. But Chit Su would spend all her pocket money on buying dolls as like any other young girl she loved playing with them. Whenever she was free from her homework, she was usually playing with her dolls as she felt happy while she was playing them. She was always thinking of buying a new one even though she had already owned many dolls. Then just over one year ago Chit Su attended at her first Cufa financial literacy session and she has not bought another doll or toy since.
Chit Su is a very bright student and often stands first in her class. Her interest was sparked at her very first financial literacy lesson, after which she decided to attend the Cufa Children’s Financial Literacy (CFL) training sessions whenever the CFL teacher came to her village. To date she has attended financial literacy sessions 18 times and has acquired a lot of financial knowledge from Cufa booklet that is provided to each program participant.
Chit Su was so interested in the sessions and learning about savings and how to spend money that often she would choose to attend a session rather than play with her friends. It was on the day that she learnt about “saving money”, that Chit Su made up her mind to open a savings account at her village saving bank to enable her to save her pocket money regularly. The sessions also taught Chit Su about the difference of spending money on wants versus needs. Now Chit Su is content playing with the dolls and toys she already has rather than buying new ones with her pocket money.
The program has also taught Chit Su about developing short and long-term savings goals. Chit Su has set a long-term savings goal of funding her university education and this is now what she is saving regularly towards.
To read more about Cufa’s Children’s Financial Literacy Program go to www.cufa.org.au/our-programs
55 year old, U Htay Thein, a rice paddy farmer, lives with his wife and daughter in San Pya Lauk Lay Chaung Village in Myanmar. For the past 53 years, Htay while he knew a little about saving as an individual he didn’t know or understand the power of saving money as a community group and the positive impact that this a good savings habit could have on his life and that of his family. He didn’t even know really why he should save and what to save for. His local community had no financial institution that could serve them because they wouldn’t qualify for a bank account due to the lack of financial literacy. Today Htay, realises the importance of developing good savings habits and the importance of a community-owned savings bank, thanks to the Cufa Credit Union Development Program. This program supports and trains members of a community to form member-owned financial institutions.
It was in July 2017 that Htay became a member of his village-owned credit union and attended training sessions provided by the local Cufa staff. The training provided Htay with an understanding of how to save, the benefits of saving and other basic financial concepts. As a member of the bank’s Self-Help Group (SHG) which are established to increase financial inclusion, Htay now talks to other interested villagers about his experience, the benefits of developing good saving habits and the importance of such for every household. Htay says that the SHG also helps build trust amongst each other as many of the villagers at the start didn’t believe that they could save together. The benefits generated from a community saving together include such things as access to emergency loans, productive loans and interest on savings.
Two years on and Htay says that it gives him and his family so much pleasure to open their savings book and see the amount they are saving plus interest and now they have a better outlook for their future.
Financial access and inclusion for the poor is core to alleviating poverty.
Read more about Cufa’s CUD Programs at www.cufa.org.au.
For detail about Corporate Partnerships to support our CUD Programs please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Khin Thandar is 8 years old and lives with her mother, father and brother in Myanmar. Khin would spend any money she had on buying snacks and dolls at the small local shops near their house. It wasn’t until she attended Cufa Children’s Financial Literacy (CFL) Program sessions being run in her village that she realised that she was wasting her money. Today, Khin is making regular savings at her local community-owned savings bank and has set savings goals, a great start at such a young age.
Khin said that it was after the first CFL lesson that she attended did she realise that she could make a change. Through the program children, like Khin, are taught financial literacy in their classroom with lessons every two to three months. The program encourages them to develop lifelong savings habits at a young age and also connects them with a savings account at their community-owned bank. Cufa uses a custom designed and developed app on a limited number of tablets to make the lessons fun for the children and reinforce the key messages and skills developed throughout the program.
Since starting the program, Khin said she has changed and rather than spending any money she has received, she now has built a strong savings habit and makes sure that she saves some of her money every day. Khin has shared her learnings with her parents and friends so that they can understand the benefit of saving for the future as well. Khin now understands the value of money and how building a strong savings habit will provide her and her family with a better future.
To read more about the Cufa Children’s Financial Literacy Program go to www.cufa.org.au
To find out more about Corporate Partnership for supporting a CFL Program please email email@example.com
In Cambodia, burning waste remains common practice, particularly in rural areas, due to the lack of dumpsites or waste collection services. In particular, the Sihanoukville Province in southwest Cambodia known for its beaches, tropical islands and the mangrove jungles of Ream National Park, has experienced a dramatic increase in the amount of plastic waste (main image) mainly due to the significant economic development and population growth in recent years. In liaison with the local communities and government, Cufa scoped and designed a Recycling Plastic Livelihoods Project to help address this issue with the project commencing on 1 July 2019.
Over the past 3 years, Cufa has partnered with communities in Sihanoukville Province through the running of its Strengthening Resettlement and Income Restoration Implementation (SRIRI) project. This project focussed on assisting displaced families by linking them to employment opportunities; providing financial skills and access to local financial institutions and helping effectively integrate them into these new communities as well as providing training on how to adequately monitor and repair key elements of the community such as the water supply, drainage, waste management, roads, and vegetation. It is through this past experience that Cufa developed a sound understanding of the increasing environmental issues that the locals were facing due to the rapid economic development. And as a result of which the Recycling Plastics Livelihood Project evolved.
The Recycling Plastics Project is designed to improve the livelihoods, economic and entrepreneurial opportunities for rural communities in the Sihanoukville Province with a strong focus on developing female entrepreneurs. Project participants will learn how to use specialist machinery to recycle plastic waste so that they it can be remodelled into items that can be sold. These technical skills will be enhanced with participants receiving business and financial skills training and support to enable them to establish a sustainable business with the added benefits of bringing the concept of recycling to rural communities, increasing awareness on how to manage plastic waste and more broadly, cleaning-up the environment.
The Recycling Plastics Livelihoods Project will also be implemented across five villages in the township of Taik Kyi in Myanmar. The project will be adapted to local conditions however there will still be a strong focus on aspiring female entrepreneurs through community social enterprises specialising in recycling and reusing plastic waste while improving the environment.
Image: Waste collection in a local village in Myanmar.
We’ll keep you updated as the project progresses.
The Female Financial Empowerment program was started by Cufa in rural Myanmar to improve the financial education of women and improve their access to financial services and education. Women are able to not only develop their financial knowledge but also improve their business and encourage their community to be involved.
We discussed the importance of financial access with Daw Hla Mon Win and this is what she had to say!
To start off with can you tell us a little bit about yourself, where are you from?
Hi. My name is Daw Hla Mon Win. I am 31 years old and have two children. We live in Inn Yet Gyi Village with my husband. We own a grocery store and have also recently been able to start farming animals thanks to Cufa’s program.
Why did you join Cufa’s program? What was your situation like before?
I didn’t know much about saving and how important it can be before the Cufa team arrived in my village. I didn’t know why I should be saving and what I should be saving for.
What was the change you noticed after you first joined the program?
After I joined my local community-owned bank as a member I attended some training and have been saving since June 2016. Now I always see my saving amount and the interest in my saving passbook which make me very happy.
How is your situation different now?
Now I am much more clear on the savings process and profits of saving. I can also explain to others in my village about saving, encouraging them to get in the savings habit.
When did you notice all this change taking place?
In June 2016 I joined the community-owned bank with some other villagers after it was established here. We wanted to be a part of owning it and have access to saving.
Have you made a contribution to the project?
I have worked with the bank which makes me happy. I also convey the news from it to other villagers and explain the benefits of saving.
Two years ago, Daw Myat Kay Khaing joined Shwe Myanmar Village Saving Bank, a community-owned bank set up in Tha Yet Chaung Village with the Cufa Female Financial Empowerment program. She lives with four other family members and ten years ago started a small shop at the front of their house. Unfortunately, without any financial education, Daw Myat Kay Khaing struggled to make any profit or save any of this income.
When Cufa project officers first came to her village Daw Myat Kay Khaing was cautious at first but after engaging with the program she started to learn a lot. She opened a savings account with her local community-owned bank started by Cufa and realized the importance of some of the skills being taught. After this, she started to save some of her money and it made her very happy to look at the progress in her savings book.
Cufa’s financial literacy lessons helped her understand concepts like calculating the interest on her savings and learning how to set savings goals and about the benefits of saving. As she learnt, Daw Myat Kay Khaing developed stronger saving habits and began making contributions more regularly. She encouraged many of her friends to also join the program and open up savings accounts saying, “Having a community-owned bank in our village helps teach everyone how to calculate our interest on savings and loans. Moreover, we can share knowledge about our bank when we meet friends from other villages.”
As Daw Myat Kay Khaing attended more financial literacy lessons, she and other villagers exchanged more stories about their businesses. Together they learnt about auditing, financial cooperatives, leadership skills, bookkeeping and more. Their businesses began to grow as they learnt more and their community-owned bank was there for them. After six months making regular savings deposits, Daw Myat Kay Khaing was eligible to take a loan out and did so happily with the aim of improving her business.
Daw Myat Kay Khaing was able to grow her business with the loan and begin earning extra money. After a short time, she had already repaid the loan and was thrilled with her progress. She had to say of the program, “I now know about the benefits of saving money at a bank and I have decided to make regular contributions to my savings account. Thank you Cufa!”
Pyae Phyoe is a ten-year-old boy living in Myanmar. His father is a farmer and his mother doesn’t work as she cares for their household. Even though Pyae Phyoe's family does not have a daily income his parents still manage to supply him with a small amount of pocket money. Pyae Phyoe never gave too much thought to his family’s financial situation and spent his pocket money on toys and snacks. This was until he joined Cufa’s Children’s Financial Literacy program and began developing important savings habits.
Two years ago when school returned for the year, Pyae Phyoe noticed many of his friends had new school bags. He really wanted to get a new bag, however, his parents could not afford it and hoped he could continue to use his old bag. He was disappointed but started to understand the value of money and its uses.
A year later Pyae Phyoe attended his first Children’s Financial Literacy lesson. As soon as he starting learning about the program he wanted to know more and more. He found the lessons interesting and engaging and it helped him understand different ways that he could spend or save his money. After learning about financial literacy Pyae Phyoe decided to start buying fewer toys with his pocket money as he didn’t think he should spend such a large portion of his money on them. He opened a savings account at his local community-owned bank and began to save money.
After a while, Pyae Phyoe was becoming less reliant on asking his parents to help him as he had a small amount of money saved and a better financial education. Now, one year after joining the program Pyae Phyoe is saving money regularly and has set his sights on one day going to university, with his savings helping him along the way.
In describing the impact the program had had on him he said, “I like sharing my financial knowledge with my family and friends. I want them to know how to spend money and how to save money. The lessons are what everyone should learn to create a brighter future for all. I have no doubt about that.”
Pyae Phyoe is continuously encouraging his friends to attend the lessons and discussing what he has learnt with his parents, spreading the savings habits he has gained.
Cufa’s Children’s Financial Literacy program has taught over 100,000 disadvantaged students across Cambodia and Myanmar about developing improved savings habits in a fun and engaging way.
Cufa’s Female Financial Empowerment program was started in Myanmar using concepts from our Credit Union Development program. The aim of the program is to develop the financial education of women in rural areas and provide the tools to empower them. This can be through support, financial services and business skills.
Recently we caught up with an entrepreneur from the program to discuss how she is going. This is how it went!
Tell us a little bit about yourself, where are you from?
“Hi. My name is Ma Thin Thin Oo and I live in Patauk Tan village in Myanmar with my husband and daughter. I recently turned 27 and I earn our main income through the grocery store that I own.”
What was your situation like before you joined the program?
“Well before Cufa even arrived in my village I didn’t know about the important role that savings played in so many parts of people’s lives! I just had no idea why I should be saving and what I would be saving for.”
What sort of activities were you involved in when you joined the program?
“I joined the program at my local community-owned bank and began attending the self-help groups. In these, I learnt about financial literacy and began to start saving money which I put into my new account. I was given a passbook which let me track my saving and interest. It makes me happy whenever I open it and see how well I have done!”
How have you benefitted from the program?
“Now I am very clear on how to save and things like interest and profits. I can easily explain it to others and recently I got a loan from my community-owned bank to use to improve my store. This has also helped me improve my profits.”
When did you really notice the program having a bigger impact on your life?
“In March 2018 when the community-owned bank started I noticed with other villagers the benefits as we had a place to save our money and we feel a part of it as it is community-owned.”
Have you been able to give back to the program at all?
“Aside from developing my skills and work ethic, I have helped and supported other villagers. I also convey the great news and achievements of the community-owned bank to other villagers who want to know more about the benefits of savings.”
Is there anything else you would like to share about your experiences?
“This program has been able to help everyone in our village providing systematic training sessions on topics like saving product development, loan product development, saving mobilization and more. By attending more of the training sessions held by Cufa staff I have a better and better understanding of financial topics and this is very helpful for my household. Thank you Cufa!”