March 5, 2014
Bank accounts offer independence and opportunity to families
Imagine walking past a bank every day wanting to go inside, but knowing it represents a part of your society where you are not welcome.
Many of our Unbound families in communities around the world know this reality all too well.
With Unbound, families can gain access to opportunities once denied them. We provide financial literacy training and the chance for mothers to manage a bank account for the first time. These women feel empowered as they see their signature or thumbprint in ink on a withdrawal slip in their name.
"Many of these women have never even been inside a bank," said Dan Pearson, director of international programs for Unbound. "It makes their world larger — this bank they passed every day is now part of their everyday experience."
In countries such as India and Kenya, sponsorship benefits are distributed to families through individual bank accounts.
With the assistance of Unbound staff members, the mothers of sponsored children manage the accounts until the children are of age.
These bank accounts are created to empower mothers to decide how to best use the sponsorship funds for the development of their families.
Unbound respects that not every family needs the same things. Families know best what they need to survive and thrive, so we put them in charge of their funds.
In India, withdrawals are scheduled two to three times a year to coincide with the times that children's school fees are due.
The process begins with every mother budgeting the amount she needs for education, health, clothing, nutrition and home necessities for her child and family.
Next, Unbound staff members review the budget, track the account balance and approve withdrawals. The mothers and staff then coordinate a good time to visit the bank. Staff members remain on hand to offer support, if needed.
Once the mothers withdraw the funds, they can make the necessary payments and purchases. When mothers direct the decision-making process through their own bank accounts, they not only gain self-confidence, they also gain access to financial services through institutions that once excluded them.
For Nirmala, mother of sponsored child Swarna in India, participating in the process is an opportunity to create a better future for her child.
"The sponsorship is a blessing for my child's future," Nirmala said. "I am uneducated and I feel privileged when I see my child going to school. I dream through her."