The Programme Coordinator of Jaksally Development Organization Mr. Seidu Jeremiah has touted the impacts and contributions of Village Savings and Loans (VSLAs) on the lives of many people in Bole district especially women groups and therefore urged the leadership of Bole district assembly, financial institutions within the area to support the course.

He said the VSLA concept is a good one and an easy way to addressing poverty among people in a society.

Jeremiah said the concept is simple, transparent, cost-effective and sustainable means of providing adapted financial services to the poor and therefore it is necessary for the authorities in the district to pay attention because it contributes to Assemblies’ Medium Term Development plan.

It also contributes towards the assembly’s achievements of Sustainable Development Goal; SDG 1,4 and 8, which talks about poverty reduction at all levels, financial inclusion, and sustainable economic growth and economic empowerment of people.

Speaking in an interview with WWW.Wesaygh.Com about the impacts of Jaksally facilitated VSLAs in Bole District and the need for additional support, Jeremiah indicated that so far the groups are currently mobilizing GHS 8,850,000.00 and generating about GHS 21,063,000.00 from their savings.

VSLA shareout

He said Jaksally has facilitated over 295 VSLA groups in Bole alone to enable people especially women, youth, children and other vulnerable groups in the society to be able to save, generate their own income, access to finance, financial inclusion, and access to credit. 

“So far we have been able to form, trained and nurtured over 295 VSLA groups in Bole districts alone with a total membership of 8,850. These are made up of 6,461 which is 73% women and 2,389 which is 23% men. They have increasing access to credit of over GHS21, 000,000.00 collectively representing (73%) women and 2,389 representing (23%) in the district;  

“As we speak about GHS 21,000,000 is available to these groups as a fund to loan from and fund mobilized,” he said.

This is reflected in the savings and loan records of the groups for the period of the last year 2019.

Jeremiah explained the impacts of the VSLA concept among various groups and individual members in the area.

Increased in employment:

About 1,180 small scale employments in rural settings have been created. Employments including drivers of vehicles bought by groups, operators of grinding mills of the groups, additional hands to man shops, additional hands-on farms, additional hands-on nuts mobilization from the groups and loading of trucks, hands-on haulage of produces, hands-on new building and construction, etc. The increases in business from goats selling to cattle dealership have created some rural jobs in the Bole District.

Increased in production:

Production levels have increased in many agricultural fields. Shea production has increased from at least ½ a bags of nuts mobilized to 3 bags average per woman per year. Nut bulking has increased in the case of the tonnage of bags of nuts that have been supplied to the buyers. Over 1,534 tons of nuts have been bulk this year alone. Maize yields per acreage have increased as a result of increase in finances to support the production. Yam production has doubled in the Banda Nkwanta, Tesilima, Mandari and Lateigbeer areas as local funds are available now for farmers to invest in their farms.

Household income:

The project has stabilized incomes, increase household financial assets and decrease vulnerability to financial and other shocks in the Bole district. VSLAs are a simple, transparent, cost-effective and sustainable means of providing adapted financial services to the poor. Income has increased from GHS 50 to GHS 3000 per annum.

More investment in agriculture:

Due to the increased access to credit, investment in agriculture and micro-enterprises has increased. A couple in Seripe has increased their agricultural product bulking from 40 to 100 bags for Shea. Women in Bole and Mandari have started arranging for group Shea nuts bulking for sale to big buyers. In Kakiase groups have mobilized 800 bags and Surrounding communities have mobilized 1000 tons of cashew nuts. Cooperatives and unions as well VSLAs have mobilized over GHS 200, 000 additional funding from BUSAC for leadership, and small business training and advocacy.  About 35% of reductions in charcoal production in the project are having been achieved due to VSLA activities.

Evidence of more engagement in small businesses:

A woman in Bodi who use to borrow money from Waala women in Wa to bulk nuts now bulk her own nuts and owns a motor king for conveying nuts. In Kakiase, Bole, women took a loan and invested in Shea nuts and processing it into Shea butter.  One also took a loan of GHS 100 invested in local soap production from Shea and made over GHS 500 in three months.

In ‘Abrewaa nko’ a woman said now she determines prices for her produce and sells them when she likes and not to the dictates of the businesswomen from Bole, WA and others. She used to buy five (5) bowls of nuts. With the intervention, she now buys a bag of nuts. In Mankuma, women and groups have increase Yam, production, started Yam’s sales, Shea nut activities from 5 women to 25 women now in yam mobilizations, Shea nuts bulking and butter trading. They have bulked over 1600 bags of nuts that they have sold to buyers in the open market.

Impact (Goal Achievement) of the project:

•       Reduction in alcoholism and smoking in Seripe

•       Reduction in smoking in general

•       Result in financially healthy competition

•       Improve marriages as in the case in Goll near Baale where a woman changes her husband’s wardrobe and supported him to roof their house with aluminum sheet

•       Create responsiveness in communities

•       Moving communities away from hand out and grants dependent

Higher-income levels;

The project has in a short period increased incomes and stabilized investments. The 295 VSLA and Cooperative groups have collectively mobilized Eight Million Eight hundred and fifty thousand Ghana cedis (GHS 8,850,000). This is reflected in the savings and loan records of the groups for the period for December 2019.

Increased access to other sustainable financial sources:

About 10 of the cooperatives and VSLAs are being processed for Vision Fund Ghana (VFG) loan and each group is targeted to receive GHS 15, 000.

Thus each member is scheduled to receive GHS 500 at 4% services. VFG is currently processing Cooperative Societies, in Kakiase and Mankuma town and some other groups in Bole for a group loan facility of GHS 25,000 per group to boost their businesses. Each member in the group is getting an average of GHS 500 for a one-year repayment period at agreed interest rates of 4% for six months. VSLAs provided access to basic financial services to many rural poor people, mostly women. Provide their members with a secure place to save and easy access to loans.

Increased access to Education/non-formal Education

With the project Jaksally has entered into a partnership with the Non-formal education division of the Ministry of Education at the district level and Literacy for Evangelism, a Canadian Based INGO into literacy, to train VSLA on how to read and write.  More children from these groups’ members have been sent back to school. School fees are paid with ease. Parents are able to replace worn-out uniforms.

Increased in Participation:

Time consciousness in church attendance and meetings times in social activities have been improved in the project areas. Participation by Christian Mothers Association and VSLA members in religious and political activities has gone up in these same areas.

Christian mothers (CMA) in most of the churches in the Jaksally operational areas have increased their turnouts to meetings and contributing meaningfully to the church development. This has led to their restricting of the CMA to function in smaller units under a big CMA. Most of the beneficiaries are able to contribute their ideas in the cooperative and Union meetings, district assembly meetings, community meetings, and unit committees and also bring in some disciplinary actions of getting community members who do not contribute to projects, cooperatives, and unions to be levied and fined. These women feel very confident and proud that they are engaging with the buyers and the middlemen.

VSLA group meeting