For Ma Hnin, a little know-how goes a long way

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With support to start her noodle shop in Myanmar, Ma Hnin is not only securing her children’s future, but improving her community as well.

Every day at Ma Hnin’s small roadside restaurant, locals sit on wooden benches to eat their lunch. Delicious aromas of noodles and fried snacks fill the air.

At a steady pace, Ma Hnin crushes garlic, chops egg and spring onion, grates cabbage, and fries the noodles. Jars of chilli and sauces sit next to small piles of fresh beans and tomatoes, as Ma Hnin prepares dish after dish in front of her eager customers. 

It’s street food at its delicious best. And one of the common sights and smells in Myanmar. But what’s far more extraordinary is the woman behind the wok.

Before Ma Hnin started this business, she couldn’t afford food, healthcare or school fees for her three young daughters. A widow, she was trapped in a cycle of debt.  

With no formal banking system in her small town, Ma Hnin borrowed from a local moneylender who charged an extremely high interest rate – up to 15 percent per month – which Ma Hnin struggled to repay.

But through a World Vision savings group, Ma Hnin received financial training to save money and a low-interest loan to help open her noodle shop.

Through her new restaurant, Ma Hnin now earns a regular income and can afford to provide for her children. The eldest girls are thriving in school, and her three-year-old knows the alphabet already!

“(My) family is a lot better, we don’t have any difficulty,” Ma Hnin says. “It’s very easy to pay (the loan) back.”

Ma Hnin has been part of her savings group for seven years. “We can rely on each other. I am happy because of this group,” she says.

Group members continue to put money aside and proudly choose to use some of their savings to help others in their community. “(We helped) a kindergarten (receive) nutritious food … We managed to buy school books and we (helped) so a child could have healthcare,” Ma Hnin says.

This budding entrepreneur is proud that she can now pay it forward. And Ma Hnin’s community is better off with the financial knowhow to support each other for many years to come.

A community investing in each other:

151

savings groups

In Ma Hnin's community had 1,579 members in 2014.

$160,000

saved

By the savings groups in Ma Hnin's community.

$1,500

towards food and medical costs

Given by savings groups in Ma Hnin's community to vulnerable people in their area.

Imagine a world without banks …

Scrap the bank fees and rip up your credit card bills!

Although it does sound appealing, in reality we know that our banks here in Australia keep our hard-earned savings secure, and help us afford the things we need. Like a decent house and a good life for ourselves and our families.

In many places where World Vision works, poor families have no access to banks or formal financial institutions. They either live in remote rural areas or are denied business from banks that perceive them as too risky.

It means that the most vulnerable in society don’t have the capital they need to sustain their livelihoods or afford unexpected emergencies, like hospital care. Many families borrow from local moneylenders to invest in tools, like farming equipment, or business training to improve their incomes.

These moneylenders often take advantage, charging high-interest loans that are impossible to repay. It’s then very easy for low-income families to fall into a never-ending cycle of debt. 

Ma Hnin's small business means she can give her children an education, and a brighter future.

Savings groups around the world:

73

countries

Across Africa, Asia and Latin America have savings groups.

11m

active participants

Are involved in savings groups around the world.

161,000

people

Across 20 countries take part in World Vision savings groups worth $4.5m.

Saving for the very first time

Through savings groups, World Vision helps communities like Ma Hnin’s to improve their income by saving regularly and accessing credit services. Groups of up to 25 community members meet weekly to put small amounts of money in a joint savings fund.

Group members can then start saving for a rainy day or take turns to borrow money if they need to – a credit service that earns the remaining members additional income through interest.

Savings groups are a safe, convenient and flexible way to save. They’re self-managed and operated, so they are a sustainable, community-owned solution that can be shared and replicated over many years.

Through savings groups, families can become self-reliant and afford essentials like healthcare and education. Savings groups help members to plan ahead, invest in small business activities and livelihoods, cope with unexpected emergencies, and ensure a steady household income.