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POWER Africa


Promoting Opportunities for Women’s Economic Empowerment in Rural Africa (POWER Africa) aimed to increase financial inclusion for 480,000 individuals and their families through savings groups, financial education, and linking mature groups to formal financial institutions.


The poorest households in the rural areas of Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, and Rwanda are significantly excluded from financial services. Gender inequalities in these areas mean that women are the most excluded and most vulnerable and cannot access even the most basic financial services, such as a savings account or a small loan. Without access to education, training, or the ability to save money, it is impossible for women to lift themselves out of poverty.


In Côte d’Ivoire, POWER Africa focused on female-headed households in rural and peri-urban areas and worked across the financial inclusion ladder to link women to formal financial services. In Ethiopia, the project targeted chronically food insecure women, helping them form groups and equipping them with financial education and business development training. In Burundi, the project supported adolescent girls with group formation, financial education, and life skills training. And in Rwanda, POWER Africa worked with mature VSLAs to link them to financial institutions.

By the end of the project, 12,542 groups with a combined membership of more than 353,000 were linked to formal financial services. In addition, more than 162,000 individuals were linked to formal financial services, 71% of them women.

of members said they relied on VSLA groups or their own savings in emergencies

Project achievements

Using CARE’s Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) methodology and a complex suite of layered trainings geared toward entrepreneurship and business management, the project surpassed its targets, reaching over 750,000 households.

The importance of POWER Africa

CARE focused POWER Africa on adolescent girls. They continue to record increasing loan amounts as their businesses expand and diversify. This is significant in light of the political instability in Burundi. Girls were able to use VSLAs as a platform for resilience – 78% of members reported that in financial emergencies, they relied on their VSLA groups or their own savings.


POWER Africa Impact Report

A brief look at the impact that POWER Africa has had on communities in Rwanda and Côte d’Ivoire.

Read the report from CARE Canada

CARE POWER Africa Learning Series

Through continual monitoring and feedback loops, POWER Africa learned valuable lessons about working with adolescent girls that resulted in key changes to make the project more responsive to girls’ needs, and therefore more effective.

Read the report from CARE Canada

Business Case Analysis for POWER/PROFIR Africa Linkage Project

CARE tasked Advisem to conduct an updated financial analysis of the linkage products provided by three financial services providers to link VSLAs to formal financial services.

Read the report from CARE Canada

POWER Africa Resiliency Learning Report

CARE Canada commissioned a resiliency learning exercise to assess the role their VSLA model has on resiliency of the vulnerable and/or very poor to manage negative shocks.

Read the report from CARE Canada