RACHA is committed to improving health through holistic approaches. Saving for Change (SfC) is a project that helps the poor gain access to capital to achieve improved health and wellbeing. Poverty is a key factor contributing to poor health in rural and remote areas of Cambodia; however, poverty alone does not result in ill health. Gender biases in many communities mean that women are often excluded from most financial operations, leaving them at greater risk for poverty and poor access to health services. Women are disadvantaged in many communities and lack access to capital. Empowering women and girls is a critical step to improving women's independence and stability. SfC project works diligently with women and girl to achieve the following:
- Build a culture of saving among poor families to establish emergency income for unforeseen events such as education, serious illness, and food security
- Build sustainable financial source in the community
- Improve leadership skills and self-confidence
- Educate women on relevant, urgent, health issues
Through this project, women become members of a collective saving group to create shared capital. Women engage in income generating activities that augment their household income. SfC members are able to access capital at lower interest rates and thus escape victimization from other businesses that might charge exorbitant interest rates. Women members are able to start small businesses, borrow money, seek health education, and access large sum loans at low interest rests. Many of these women utilize the program for financial emergencies and SfC is able to support their need without any large financial repercussions.
RACHA provides capacity building training to assist them in creating successful business ventures. Trainings strengthen the livelihood skills and RACHA provides support to ensure stability before scaling back for complete independent management. In 2013, funded by Oxfam, RACHA has successfully created and maintained 1,825 savings groups in 4 provinces with 28,879 total members (of which 84.2% are women). This includes 3,079 members (10.7%) who are ID Poor I or II. The savings groups have generated a cumulative savings of $1,277,795 USD, and a total of 13,394 loans were provided to members to help them engage in income generating activities. A team from the Republic of Mali in western Africa visited the RACHAâ€™s Saving for Change (SfC) project in Banteay Meanchey. In July 2015, RACHA implemented the Oxfam-America funded Empowering Women through Enhanced Leadership Skills project in Preah Vihear Province. The aim was to empower Women SfC group members to undertake higher leadership roles in and/or outside their community. Another Oxfam funded Women and Youth SfC Groups Creating Their Own Economic Opportunity project has been implemented by RACHA in Siem Reap province starting November 2015 to end in June 2017. This project aims to form 177 new saving groups (2,650 women & youth) using SfC methodology, and to strengthen 50 existing youth groups, and train existing groups on Community-Based Enterprise Development, Youth & womenâ€™s leadership and reproductive health education. Founded on self-reliance and community participation, the SfC project is a powerful approach to empower and engage women and girls to battle poverty in communities that have no access to conventional credit schemes.