A Tool for Transformation: Our First VSLA Forms in Ghana!
August 21, 2015
With great celebration we announce the formation of our first Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) in Ghana! Consisting of nine men and ten women, the Sesa Mu VSLA is made up primarily of farmers who grow pineapple and corn in and around the town of Berekuso. They have committed to year together, trusting each other to create stable, affordable financial services and the opportunity to save money for their own needs.
“The VSLA helps people cultivate a habit of savings,” said Joshua Fiagbedzi, Just Hope advocate manager, who is managing the creation of VSLAs in Ghana. “But the greatest value is as a tool for people to support themselves and not be dependent on others financially.”
The VSLA has the power to completely transform a person’s life. With a savings and loan tool, people have access to time and choice, which are pivotal to independence.
“VSLAs deliver financial services where formal financial institutions fail to reach,” said Peter Mueller, project manager in Ghana. “They empower people throughout the process, with groups self-selecting their own members at the start and electing leaders to oversee the ongoing management of the group. VSLAs allow individuals to build better financial management skills, regardless of how much they start with.”
For all of them, this is their first experience with a VSLA. During the group formation, they expressed dissatisfaction with nearby financial institutions, where borrowing rates are so high that loans are inaccessible to them. By trusting in each other, they can decide for themselves where to set interest rates and then benefit from the financial activity of the group. Additional benefits include the ability to save money for business, personal and education investments, and the building of community trust, leadership and confidence, as they come to see that they have the skills, intelligence and perseverance to solve their own challenges.
The Sesa Mu VSLA has already begun weekly meetings, during which members contribute a documented amount of cash. Next month, the nest egg will be available for borrowing, money that will be paid back with interest within a defined period of time. At the end of the year, the corpus of the fund plus the earned interest will be divided equitably among members according to the amount of money they contributed over the year. The group can then decide to commit to another year together.