She created the Savings Clubs of Solomon Islands: savings and lending with no banks

“We must not underestimate the cash earnings of rural women. Even though they do not earn a fortnightly salary, they earn a little money every day or every week. Through their earnings they feed and manage family livelihoods. Savings clubs recognize rural women’s earning power and help assist them to save little by little and watch their money grow”.

Dr. Alice Pollard

Dr Alice Pollard is an advocate for women’s financial independence and security in the Solomon Islands. She is best recognized for her work in building the capacity of rural women and promoting the “Savings Clubs” concept since 2006.

A Savings Club, also called Savings Group, is defined by the Pacific Financial Inclusion Program: “The concept of savings groups (SGs) is an emerging movement, where members of savings groups save together, lend their savings to each other with interest, and share the profits. Like tiny local credit unions, savings group projects have evolved specific technologies in which members provide their own savings and credit ser­vices at negligible cost, while retaining earnings and capital in their own communities. They are simple, transparent, and independent. In some places, savings groups complement the existing services of regulated formal financial institutions. In others, they reach people who have been completely excluded from access to any financial service, formal or informal.”

It is all well though out, with guides for different kinds of Saving Clubs for different needs: “Payouts are often scheduled to coincide with planned yearly expenses such as seasonal planting, payment of school fees, or important festivals, giving SG members access to funds when they are most needed. In addition, many SGs elect to allocate a portion of their money to a “social fund,” which acts as an insurance policy in times of emergency.”

The other great accomplishments of Alice Pollard

A former Director of the Ministry of Women, Children and Family Affairs, Dr Alice Pollard co-founded a rural-based women’s organisation in 1999 that runs a savings and loans club for its members.

The West ‘Are’Are Rokotanikeni Association (WARA) works to empower and equip its members with the skills and knowledge to make better decisions on issues that affect their lives and those of their families and communities. WARA promotes self-reliance and rural economic empowerment for its 1,000 plus members.

Today, there are a total of 13 savings clubs in the country with around 3500 members in total and savings of just under SBD3 million in July 2017.

One of few Solomon Islands women with a PhD, Dr Pollard has contributed extensively to research on various social issues and leadership in Solomon Islands. She has a deep understanding of the impact of gender, development and culture on agriculture and food security, leadership, community development and gender.

Dr Pollard was a key figure in the Women for Peace movement at the height of the Solomons’ civil conflict and has served as a member of various boards and committees.

She was a key figure in the Women for Peace movement at the height of the Solomons’ civil conflict, a member of various boards and committees, Coordinator of Women in Government Strategic Programme (2008 -2010), Chairperson of the Solomon Islands College of Higher Education Council (2009 -2011), former chair of the University of the South Pacific Solomon Islands Campus Advisory Committee, current chair of the Solomon Islands Democratic Party and Director of Leadership development program.

In 2016, Dr Pollard was awarded the Woman of Courage Award by United States Secretary of State, for her exceptional courage and leadership throughout her 15 year tenure assisting the government of Solomon Islands on gender, social and economic issues, leadership, community development, and governance.

 

This portrait of Dr. Alice Pollard was first published by the Pacific Community for the 70 Inspiring Women campaign, it is reproduced here with their permission.

The 70 Inspiring Pacific Women campaign has been produced by the Pacific Community (SPC) in partnership with Australian Aid and Pacific Women. The campaign marks the 70th anniversary of SPC, and leads up to the 13th Triennial Conference of Pacific Women and 6th Meeting of Ministers for Women in Suva (Fiji) from 2nd to 5th October 2017.

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