Anyono Mary set a good example to members of her Village Saving and Loan Association (VSLA) during their most recent savings cycle. With a disability in her legs, she has struggled to do anything on her own. However, as a member of the Invisible Children (IC) VSLA group Teke Akwo, she has been able to get her business moving. “I have paid people to dig and weed my crops for me, and then I have sold the produce as my small-scale business,” she said.
Similarly Omona Jennifer borrowed from the group to inject money into her oil business that she had started. She is able to support her family with what she gets from her small business.
There were many testimonies like these from members of different VSLA groups in Atanga, Amuru district upon completion of their second savings cycle. The groups saved for a period of eight months, during which time they were free to borrow loans from the group savings to start up small businesses, paying back the loans with interest.
For group Teke Akwo, where Mary and Jennifer belong, they were able to save $1703, earning 8.75% interest for each member. The women and men counted their money before folding it neatly and tucking it away in their pockets or attaching it to the clothes they were wearing in tied knots, ready to put it to good use.
To accrue savings is not a simple matter of numbers; traits like trustworthiness, determination and the spirit of togetherness are expected from the VSLA group members. There are currently 90 active groups receiving support and guidance from IC-trained facilitators. These hard working community members have learned that the best way to overcome the effects of war and hardship is to do it together.