In a remote community in Botswana, Mrs. Oageng Regelepeng had always been an incredibly shy member of PCI’s village-led savings group, which empowers women to make decisions that affect their social and economic lives. During discussions she never spoke and would shield her face when addressed. However, over time, she slowly opened up and became comfortable enough to ask a fellow member to teach her to write her name, as she was illiterate.

When PCI staff members returned for the next meeting, they were shocked to see Mrs. Regelepeng’s name proudly written all over the group’s ledger book. In the months between learning to write her name and next meeting, Mrs. Regelepeng had transformed into a confident and outgoing woman capable of addressing topics that concerned her, such as HIV/AIDS and gender issues.

Many of the 11,636 women like Mrs. Regelepeng who participate in PCI’s village-led savings groups have been positively affected by PCI’s Women Empowered (WE) Initiative. This global effort raises awareness about the challenges faced by women in the developing world and promotes ways by which women can create social and economic empowerment for themselves, their families and their communities.

The women who participate in these 809 WE groups now have a sense of pride in the vulnerable communities they live in, and have restored hope and faith in their potential to make their dreams a reality. By 2014, PCI hopes to expand the WE Initiative to all 16 countries in which PCI operates and have over 100,000 participants in the village-led savings groups.