On the 2018 trip, the team from Australia visited the small community of Aminocera and were lucky enough to learn about how the Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA) program works.
VSLA engages women in Cents for Seeds villages across northern Uganda, encompassing women participating in Cents for Seeds and women who are not. It teaches them the value of saving, and giving them the opportunity to work with women in their community.
How does it work?
Women are divided into groups of 50. To begin, each group is given a small amount of money to start off the ‘kitty’. They are given a makeshift safe money box too. In each group 6 leaders are allocated:
- 3 key holders
The communal savings will increase in 2 ways:
- the women will borrow money from the safe box – they pay back their loan with a calculated amount of additional interest.
- The women add their own money, as much and as often as they want.
Security is managed in two ways:
- the keys to the lockbox’s padlock are held by 3 different women. The design of the box restricts access by only opening when all keys are present.
- the Secretary/record keeper is strictly not allowed to be one of the key holders. this prevents books from being changed and money from being stolen.
At a predecided point, the accumulated profit is divided up amongst the women, according to how much each woman has added. A base minimum is always kept in the safe box.
VSLA has proven to be an effective program, with the results proving it is having an incredibly positibe impact on the communities involved.
They are taught how to save money – a skill which can be handed down through families, and exercised successfully in their present.
Savings are being used to send their children to school, pay medical bills, pay for events and start their own businesses.
With their savings they are able to genuinely improve their standard of living, something the team members who visited Uganda in November were able to witness for themselves.