Moving To A Better Future

Oxfam in Asia - Stories - Timor Leste - Moving to a better future

Lucia Timo at a weekly meeting with her Savings For Change group

"We hope that with our future activity and savings, we can get a machine to grind rice. Then we can make and save more money."
Lucia Timo
Savings For Change Group leader

We all know that saving money is not always easy. For people living in rural communities in Timor-Leste, it can be impossible. There are very few ways in the formal financial sector for poor people to save money. And many people do not have the support needed to their income regular, or to stay motivated with a savings plan. When money is needed urgently, people often rely on families for credit.

Since 2004 Oxfam has been introducing the concept of savings groups in Timor-Leste. From approaches first used in Indonesia and Cambodia, Oxfam and our partners in Timor-Leste have designed a Savings for Change method that works best for rural communities in Timor-Leste. This a crucial part of Oxfam’s rural livelihoods program, HAFORSA.

Lucia Timo is 29 years old and lives in Oecusse in Timor-Leste. Lucia grows and sells vegetables. With support from Oxfam partner Forum Peduli Wanita Oecusse (Oecusse Forum for Caring for Women), Lucia has joined training on different ways to grow vegetables. This has increased the amount of vegetables she can grow, and then sell. With her increased income Lucia has bought new seeds – to grow even more vegetables!

This increased and regular income has meant Lucia can manage her regular weekly contribution to her Savings for Change group. Members meet weekly to contribute their savings – often just a few dollars a week. Savings for Change record keeping is simple, designed for people who have limited reading or writing skills. With the confidence from her support networks, Lucia has now stepped up as leader for her savings group.

“We started a savings group and each week we are able to save $2.50. We are so happy to be able to do this. In the beginning, for five months, we do not take out any money. After that, if one of our members wants $10, they can take it but they have to give back $11 when they pay back.

We hope that with our future activity and savings we can get a machine to grind rice. Then we can make and save more money.”

Oxfam’s HARFOSA Program is supported by