Sirah is one of the most respected farmers in her community today due to her hard work, ingenuity, and how she’s managed the money she’s saved through her SILC (Savings and Internal Lending Community) group. SILCs are supported by Foods Resource Bank’s Sierra Leone-Koinadugu program to enable and encourage farmers to save money for agricultural inputs and starting small businesses.
Sirah and her elderly husband have six children. She is solely responsible for meeting household needs and paying school expenses out of her small-scale farming operations. She had the idea of buying a pair of bulls to rent out for plowing but, before joining the SILC, she had no savings and could only pay a quarter of the purchase price.
One of the first members of the first SILC in her community, Sirah started saving money regularly along with others in her group. After the fourth month, she took out a loan from her SILC for the balance of what she needed for the bulls, and started running her small business. She repaid her loan from her profits along the way. When the group had its yearly share-out she was also able to buy a new plow.
She greatly reduces her own labor by plowing her farm, and generates a modest income providing a useful service to her neighbors. She has also been attending one of the program’s Farmer Field Schools. She’s trying out the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) techniques on her own farm.
Sirah says, “Thank you for introducing the “box” (SILC lockbox) and teaching us how to grow rice for better yields. I wouldn’t have been a happy woman at this moment had it not been for your intervention in our community. May God bless you.”
The Sierra Leone Koinadugu program encompasses 40 communities, 1200 households, and 6000 individuals.