Developing a Rural Microfinance Institution in Laos


Australia Agency for International Development,WEAL



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Only about 15% of households in Laos have access to formal financial sources. Poor rural communities in Laos do not have access to secure and reliable financial services. Consequently, families are unable to make significant investments in developing their livelihoods, weather economic shocks, and save for the future.

World Education Inc. and World Education Australia (WEAL) worked on an ambitious initiative to establish an autonomous, locally owned and managed microfinance agency in Salavan Province in southern Laos. As a result of these efforts, Vanmai (which means “New Day” in Laos) Savings and Credit Union (SCU) was formally established in November 2010. The premise behind it was to create an institution that met the financial needs of local people, offering a safe place to save and access loans. Vanmai SCU is a regulated financial institution by the Bank of Laos, the country’s central bank and is required to provide monthly performance reports.

The Vanmai SCU staff and Board (supported by WEAL and WE/Laos microfinance team staff) focused on putting in place basic systems, training staff, recruiting new members, mobilizing savings and disbursing initial loans. By project end, Vanmai SCU had provided loans to more than 800 people in Saravan Province in southern Laos.

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