Photo courtesy of Melissa Flores

Despite facing decades of instability and economic stagnation since gaining independence in 1962, Burundi’s people are proving their resilience and hope as they work towards achieving small and large-scale goals through PCI’s Women Empowered (WE) program.

WE is a savings-led economic empowerment program designed to train groups of 15-25 people to save and loan together, practice leadership skills and accomplish personal and community-wide goals. In 2019, local partner Burundi Friends International (BFI) secured a Rotary Global Grant to expand PCI’s WE program to reach 60 groups of youth and women coffee farmers. To date, 1,330 members have saved over $40,000 and used that savings to offer small loans to each other to expand small businesses, improve their houses and purchase livestock.

Pauline, a Community Facilitator working in Gitega province to form and support these new groups continually remarks – “You are not training us fast enough!” – due to feedback from many community members who have seen the successes of their neighbors and want to receive training from BFI. More than 7,000 women await training in the province of Gitega alone.

*PCI works through local partners in this country. Lead photo by Melissa Flores. Summary photos by Julie Marner, Executive Director of BFI.

In [the] next five years, I dream to rebuild our house because it is small. I encourage women to join savings associations since [they] help us save [a] little to save [for] the future.

- Helena, WE group member, Gitega province