MFIs and banks find it difficult to cover the costs of providing rural financial services – especially in Africa. In its large-scale Village Savings and Loans Associations (VS&LA) programmes in Africa, CARE is tackling these difficulties by encouraging the formation of village loan funds entirely composed of members' savings, keeping the time-bound savings and lending methodology very simple and limiting external involvement to a one-year training and follow-up period. This article describes how the methodology works in principle and practice and describes evaluation results from the CARE VS&L programme in Zimbabwe, where very high rates of inflation pose a challenge to any microfinance programmes. Finally the need for management information systems and better record keeping are identified as issues that need further development.
Does Africa need industrial and innovation policies to protect its ‘young’ industries against the competition of foreign trade?