In Myanmar's slums, women pool savings to get relief from crushing loans

Years of misrule and a subsequent dearth of hard currency, along with crippling bank-fostered debt cycles and exorbitant home mortgage interest rates, have created immense suffering for Myanmar's poor. But with the guidance of a local NGO, Women for the World, a pilot project helped women in some of Yangon's poorest neighborhoods capitalize on their cultural "head-of-household" status; by forming and managing community savings cooperatives, the women have instilled trust through local control and, above all, enabled members to secure land, build homes, buy food, and even generate profit through loans to families' business enterprises.

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