Open Hands is an Anabaptist non-profit organization combating poverty by forming, teaching and mentoring savings and credit groups. Our vision is to see the financially vulnerable stabilized and growing, standing together in Christian community.
How Savings Groups Work
Savings Group Life Cycle
Our goal is to restore people’s dignity while avoiding dependancy. Our local facilitators search for church and community leaders interested in a savings group ministry.
We then provide an orientation for the leaders and potential group members. They are taught about the benefits of savings groups, and how savings groups work.
Our facilitators then meet with the new group members and guide them through group formation. The group elects their own leaders, drafts their own policies, chooses their savings cycle length, and what type of savings group they will be. The groups are self-governing.
The groups then meet weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. The group meetings normally begin with devotions and prayer. Our facilitator is also given a time slot where they teach Bible-based lessons on topics including how to run a good savings group, leadership, personal finance, and small business. After receiving teaching, the group conducts their saving and loaning.
At the end of the savings cycle, typically one year, each group member receives back the money they
saved. The group then works to reform and improve their policies and chooses when their next savings cycle will begin.
History of Open Hands
Edith and I have spent most of our lives involved in missions. Part of our mission experience was spending a year in rural Haiti. Through our years of mission experience, we have become committed to indigenous principles and have seen the long-term effects of mission aid pro- grams which create a debilitating dependency. We realized that a church where 50% or more of the congregation is unemployed would never be a self-supporting indigenous church. It will always be dependent on outside funds. We recognized the need for economic development as well as theological teaching. The vision for a Savings Group program started in 2007. We started with a small program in Haiti with about 12 savings groups which now has become more widespread and larger than what we had originally envisioned. This is a result of God’s blessing and guidance, a faithful staff team who have committed themselves to the work, and ﬁnancial and prayer supporters who have made it possible to carry on the work.
Now Open Hands stands on the verge of new growth and possibilities. With a full-time administrator and a solid, experienced leadership team, the organization is poised to respond to more of the opportunities that exist. The Open Hands story is not ﬁnished; it is moving on to an exciting new chapter.
– Merle Burkholder, founder, staff pastor