VSLA

Transforming Challenges into Opportunities

“Being members of a farmers’ group and saving money with them has transformed my family’s challenges into opportunities,” says Ouga, an elderly farmer who participates in the Uganda Teso program.

Ouga and his wife, Janet, have ten children. They joined a farmers’ group in 2016 to receive training on a variety of sustainable agricultural practices. As their tomatoes, maize and cassava started yielding more, they began saving money with other members through the group’s Village Savings and Lending Association.

“In the first year, we just saved a little money. What opened our eyes was that the members who had saved more received a substantial amount of money as a dividend at the end of the cycle! In fact, they were even able to buy cattle!”

Seeing their fellow farmers’ success triggered Ouga and Janet’s desire to put away more money. At the end of the second-year payout cycle, Ouga’s family received enough to buy a bull for plowing.

“That same year, we got a loan from the group and purchased doors and windows for the house we were constructing as a family,” Ouga said. “We are also now able to pay school fees and cover other expenses. For so many years – even into my old age – I have struggled to provide for my family, with little and sometimes no success. Now I realize it was mainly because of my ignorance and sticking to traditional thinking and practices,” he says.

Caption: Janet and Ouga harvesting cassava

Uganda Teso Program
Led by World Renew and local partner PAG KIDO

08/28/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Keeping Track of Expenses Leads to Profits

Dimnoré is finally getting ahead, thanks to putting into practice what she learned from the program about “SMART” marketing goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based). It was only when she learned how to keep track of her small business expenses that she realized she’d doing a great deal of work for not much profit, and how to do better.

Dimnoré belongs to a Savings and Internal Lending group.  She took out a small loan to buy néré tree seeds to start making and selling soumbala (a fermented, protein-rich condiment, sold in balls or patties and used in a variety of dishes across Africa). Her original goal was at least to repay what she’d borrowed, plus interest. With her loan of $45 she grossed $54, and felt she’d gained, but when she learned how to subtract expenses, she was shocked that she’d netted only 95 cents. Or, as she put it, “I realized I was gaining nothing but suffering from all my work.”

Since then, she keeps track of all her costs, and is always finding ways cut down on cash outlays.  For instance, instead of spending money on public transportation and the day’s food to buy bags of seed at the city market, she asks a friend who is going anyway to get them for her. With her newfound earnings she’s been able to pay off her loan and has bought sheep to fatten for sale. She feels she’s becoming a SMART business woman, indeed!

Caption: Fattening sheep for resale

Burkina Faso Namentenga Program
Led by Catholic Relief Services

06/13/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Breaking the Cycle of Poverty with Savings

Dorcas, a farmer who participates in one of the program’s Village Savings and Lending Associations (VSLA), can hardly contain her excitement about the improvements program activities have made in her life.  “Before this I only grew crops, and did not have any other sources of income or protein. Look! I now have chickens running around in my compound, and they give me eggs and meat.  I am also selling them in the market and making some cash. For a 4-month-old chicken I’ve raised I can earn up to ten times what I paid for the chick.” 

All of the farmers involved in these VSLAs are like Dorcas – they have limited sources of income and have always relied mainly on rain-fed agriculture to feed their families. After the staff of local partner ADS-Mt. Kenya East convinced Dorcas and the other farmers of the importance of saving money together, they began meeting regularly to encourage each other to save and to share learning and experiences. They also received training on group leadership, managing loans, and establishing by-laws to ensure that all members respect the rules of the group.

Periodically, group members take out loans from the pooled savings, and pay them back with modest interest. Annual payouts from the collective savings can be heady experiences: many members are astonished to learn they have saved a substantial amount for the first time in their lives. Most use their loans to purchase farm inputs, pay their children’s school fees, and diversify their farm activities, and now see a way out of poverty.

Dorcas says, “I am definitely happy to be a member of my VSLA.’’

Caption: Dorcas feeds some of her chickens

Kenya Tigania
Led by World Renew and Local Partner

05/31/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Proud to be a Farmer

Rajib, a young farmer in Bangladesh, says, “I used to think that only poor people became farmers, but now I see agriculture as a noble profession. It is a source of income, nutrition, and food security. I’m proud to be a farmer.”

Until the program’s local partner SATHI offered agricultural training to this subsistence farmer, he’d been using techniques he’d learned as a child. When his father died, he’d had to quit school and take over the responsibility of their family farm. Because his father grew only rice, that’s what Rajib did as well. But, he said, “SATHI taught me rice alone cannot meet all the nutritional needs of our body.”

He joined a farmers group and learned about growing vegetables in kitchen gardens, fertilizing with organic compost, and managing pests with environmentally-friendly farming methods. The farmers group also functioned as a savings and lending group, and Rajib began saving regularly.  He was able to take a small loan from the group to buy a variety of seeds. SATHI staff and other skilled farmers were there to support and guide him in his new venture. He was amazed at the quantity and quality of all he was able to harvest -- spinach, red amaranth, long bean, eggplant, cabbage, cauliflower, carrot, cucumber, tomato and sweet gourd. More than enough to feed his family and earn a small income.
 
Encouraged by his success, Rajib recently took a poultry-rearing workshop from SATHI which motivated him to purchase 10 chickens. He is now waiting for them to lay eggs and supply meat for his family.

Caption: Red amaranth growing in Rajib’s kitchen garden

Bangladesh Kendua Programs
Led by World Renew and Local Partner SATHI

Photo and storyline credit: Lipy Dhoni

05/24/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Village Savings and Loan Group Turns James’s Life Around

James, a farmer and the director of the school in his village, says that the ag training and support he has received from the program changed his family’s story from one of desperation to hope. Trained in information technology, he found it very difficult to earn enough money in the city to support his wife and three girls. He took a big risk by moving back to his village to take up farming. His first exposure to what the program had to offer was joining fellow farmers in starting a Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA). “This,” he says, “was the beginning of the turnaround for my family.”

James and his group received training in conservation agriculture techniques, growing vegetables, and Farming as a Family Business. This year, he and his family planted one acre of groundnuts (peanuts) to sell, and two acres of cassava to eat. What they earned from the groundnuts allowed them to buy a cow, and the milk adds protein to their diet. With their VSLA savings they bought five bags of cement and built another room onto their home. “I plan to borrow money from the VSLA to complete the work,” says James.

James’s story is representative of the general success of the program in his village. His VSLA is doing so well that it made a contribution to the school he was instrumental in starting. James was able to buy a blackboard, chalk and textbooks and even pay the teachers with the funds.

Caption: Village schoolchildren benefited from a donation by James’s savings group

Uganda Teso Program
Led by World Renew and local partner PAG-KIDO
96 communities, 11,624 households, and 51,944 individuals

05/16/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More
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