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A CVECA is a self-reliant village savings and credit bank (from the French Caisse Villageoise d'Epargne et de Crédit Autogérée). CVECAs are designed to operate in rural areas with clients who are primarily subsistence farmers, with minimal non-farm income. While most banks have less than 250 members, they achieve service flexibility and economies of scale through networking together into regional federations. "Each bank is managed by 2 part-time local staff and a board composed of members, all of whom have minimal education."

CVECAs are member-based microfinance intermediaries inspired by external technical support. Structurally they lie between informal financial market actors like moneylenders, collectors, and ROSCAs on the one hand, and formal actors like microfinance institutions and banks on the other. Other organizations in this transitional zone in financial market development include self-help groups, ASCAs, rural credit co-operatives, village banks and financial service associations.