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Catholic Relief Services Was Founded in 1943 by the Catholic Bishops of the United States to Serve World War II Survivors in Europe

Catholic Relief Services Was Founded in 1943 by the Catholic Bishops of the United States to Serve World War II Survivors in Europe

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Published by Priti Parida

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Published by: Priti Parida on Jun 26, 2012
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Catholic Relief Services was founded in 1943 by the Catholic Bishops of the United States to serve World War IIsurvivors in Europe. Its mission is to assist impoverished and disadvantaged people overseas, working in the spirit ofCatholic Social Teaching to promote the sacredness of human life and the dignity of the human person. CatholicRelief Services approaches emergency relief and long-term development holistically, ensuring that all people,especially the poorest and most vulnerable, are able to participate in the very fullness of life
to have access tobasic necessities, health care and education
all within peaceful, just communities. To achieve this, it focuses onsix key areas of service: emergencies, hunger, education, health, peace and helping at home.Since 1988, Catholic Relief Services' microfinance program has been reaching the world's poorest communities withaccess to financial services that are sustainable over time. CRS' microfinance program is committed to serving thevery poor, especially women and vulnerable populations in remote rural communities. CRS' programs target the self-employed poor who have little or no access to formal credit or savings services.
Promotion of Self-help Groups
 Gram Vikas supports the formation and strengthening of Self-Help Groups (SHG). These groups can collectivelyaccrue savings to fund income-generating activities such as agriculture, livestock rearing, fish farming andhorticulture. A typical SHG is comprised of 10 to 15 members of the community who agree to deposit monthlysavings into a fund, a portion of which can eventually be borrowed to fund community businesses.To support SHGs Gram Vikas provides basic record keeping and financial training and encourages the group toundertake income-generating activities. When the group gains the ability and confidence required to successfullymanage their funds, they are linked to local banks. By linking them to local banks they are able to access externalfunds and government loans.Although SHGs are not restricted to beingexclusively for women, although majority of them are women's groups.The groups provide a social space for women to discuss common concerns in addition to wider issues. Additionally,this space enables women to develop the confidence that they need to speak out even when men are present. In avillage council meeting, this allows women to play a greater role in the decision-making process.
Creating Access to Business Loans
For people in urban and densely populated rural communities, CRS provides much-needed access to credit servicesthrough partner microfinance institutions. Typically, loans begin at $40 and 
.An emphasis is put on establishing long-term relationships between group members and themicrofinance institution. This ensures that the borrowers can successfully reimburse the institution, and that theirbusinesses grow and develop through the prudent use of these loans.
For groups of extremely vulnerable poor, with even smaller savings and borrowingcapacities, CRS introduced two microfinance methodologies: the 
 andthe self-help group. Members of these groups typically save on a regular basis, contribute toa voluntary emergency fund, and engage in small-scale internal lending with loans of $5 to$30. These approaches have been particularly successful in meeting the financial needs of extremely vulnerable commu
CRS provides much needed capacity building support to our partners by providingtraining and technical assistance on innovations that can efficiently meet theneeds of poor communities. Local partner organizations provide insight andexperience about how best to work with their community based on anunderstanding of their needs.nities that have little or no access to
MicrofinancePrograms
 
Serve the poorest clients-
Reflecting CRS’ goal to promote s
ocial and economic justice, we focus on the poorestcommunities and entrepreneurs. Women make up the majority of our clients, as they generally have the least means andaccess to credit. 
Link loans to savings-
We connect the size of a client’s loan to the amount of that client’s savings, to ensure that they are building
wealth as they borrow.Use solidarity guarantees-Group-guaranteed loans replace collateral. Solidarity guarantees work by linkingnew loans to on-time repayment of past loans. A self-selected
group of clients guarantee each other’s loans with the understandingthat no one in the group will receive a new loan until each member’s previous loan is repaid.
 
Practice participatory management
Clients are directly involved in the management and administration of the services they receive, from voting on loan applications tocollecting payments from other borrowers. In this way, CRS guarantees the inclusion of those most affected by these majordecisions.
Invest in scale and self-sufficiency
Investing in research, design, staffing and training from the beginning of a program, and throughout later stages of growth is crucialto successfully moving a project from start-up to formalization. Achieving scale (i.e., reaching at least 5,000 clients per partner)advances our mission to serve the poor. We achieve self-sufficiency through efficient operations and by charging interest at marketrates.
Plan for permanence
Prior to launching a new microfinance project, CRS plans the project’s evolution into a sustaina
ble resource for the poor.Permanence may include creating a formal financial institution, helping partners transform programs into specialized microfinanceinstitutions or consolidating pilot activities into larger local entities.
formal financial s
Sustainable finance in poor communities
CRS developed its community-based savings-led initiatives to reach a large group of extremely vulnerable poor people with limitedsavings and borrowing capacity
especially women in rural communities. Group members make regular savings deposits and are
able to borrow from the group’s pooled resources; loans typically range from $5 to $30. CRS has demonstrated that these savin
gsgroups are especially effective in bringing financial services to people living in very poor, isolated areas. The model is highlyreplicable and sustainable. It builds on existing community relationships and fosters the mutual trust necessary to maintain integrityand responsibility in borrowing.
CRS’ outreach through savings
-led initiatives has seen significant growth. Savings by members ofthese groups increased 43% from 2006 to 2008, to $1.5 million (figure 1). Over the same period, participation grew to nearly800,000 people. While India predominates in terms of deposits and membership, growth is being driven by expansion in Africa,which has gone from 2,700 to 69,000 members with $573,000 in deposits.
CRS’ experience has shown that the savings
-led model integrates well with projects that target people living with HIV/AIDS or theircaregivers, orphans and vulnerable children, agroenterprises, water and sanitation programs, and education initiatives. Weemphasize collaboration across program sectors to meet the range of community needs.

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