Journal of Microfinance / ESR Review


CARE's Mata Masu Dubara (MMD) project is a women's time-bound accumulating savings and credit association (ASCA) program in rural Niger. Over the past decade, CARE has facilitated the creation of over 5,500 active women's groups with over 162,000, providing the purest forms of financial intermediation to their members in some of the poorest parts of Niger. Working from a very simple and appropriately adapted savings based product, sustainability and replication of the associations is easy to achieve. Due to the overwhelming demand for the product, CARE's role has evolved from service provider creating the associations to a facilitator that trains local animators who are then paid by the village women to train them. CARE estimates that there is a minimum of 200,000 practicing members with over S3 million in savings. This article examines the nature of markets for rural financial services in the Sahel and the characteristics of the MMD model that respond so well to that market. It also reviews the limitations of the model, and some of the adaptations that CARE has introduced to successfully replicate the program in numerous other countries in Africa.


William Grant is the Operations Director for Ebony Consulting International (ECI) in South Africa.; Hugh Allen is ApproTEC country director in Tanzania. Previously, he worked for CARE for 13 years.



Journal Title

Journal of Microfinance

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