Continuing on with the theme of 2020, the Village Savings and Loans project (VLSA) faced challenges courtesy of coronavirus and the ongoing impact of the pandemic. In saying this, the project has achieved its goals with a few minor deviations from the original plan to account for the change in project delivery caused by the pandemic.
VSLA is a program that Love Mercy runs in northern Uganda which engages women in Cents for Seeds villages, teaching them the value of saving. It encompasses women participating in Cents for Seeds and women who are not, giving them all the opportunity to benefit from increased financial freedom.
Some of the benefits for women through taking part in the VSLA project include…
- Feeling more secure with access to savings and welfare
- Feeling a sense of empowerment being able to make their own financial decisions
- Feeling supported in community by their group members
- Making financial plans and setting goals
75 new groups of women were added to the VSLA within 2020, something we were able to do after receiving a grant from 100 Women, an organisation based in Perth, WA, Australia. 100 women are a collaborative giving circle that transforms the lives of women and girls.
“Sometimes you can feel a bit helpless with all the problems of the world. How can I make a difference? I wanted to bring together women who wanted to start building a positive legacy in the world. I’m lucky, I have access to education, health services and employment. I am free from violence. Unfortunately, not all girls and women have these opportunities. How do we connect those who have with those who haven’t and bridge the gap? That’s when 100 Women was born.”
The women in these 75 groups have so much to look forward to. As a VSLA member since 2012, Acar Bencimancy has seen the impact of time in the project…
Acar Bencimancy is a widow aged 70 from the parish of Barodugu in Otuke town council. She is one of the members who started benefiting from Love Mercy projects since 2012 when she received an agricultural loan. When asked how the project benefited her she said, as far as cent for seeds is concerned after harvesting the sesame and soy beans from her gardens she sells the produce and the money pays school fees for her grand children who are orphans. Last year (2020) in VSLA her group shared out the money saved among the members and she was the highest saver with 1,300,000 shillings. She bought four bags of shea nuts for sale at a cost of 300,000 shillings per bag and she will be selling each bag at 500,000 shillings whereby her total profit will be 800,000 shillings and some of the money will be used to pay school fees and the rest continue with the business. Since she joined the project, her life has never remained the same she no longer borrows from people like she used to do before.
We are extremely grateful to our team on the ground in Uganda who advised this was the best course of action, as now we can see that this cash helped families survive through to when their crops were harvested in September.
Thank you to 100 women for supporting these 75 new groups, and for giving them the opportunity to to empower them to support their families and further lift themselves out of poverty.