The Invisible Children (IC) Livelihood team has started up 45 Village Saving and Loan Association (VSLA) groups recently in Bobi and Lakwana. In VSLA, community members are able to pool their money and take out small loans to start up businesses. After several months of operating the new business, members pay back the loan with interest. At the end of a savings cycle, all of the interest earned during the period is paid out to members based on their total savings.
This week, selected participants got a chance to pay a fruitful visit to their counterparts in Atanga Sub-County, where the groups have been saving and loaning money together for much longer.
The visit gave an opportunity to the VSLA groups to share ideas, create rapport and learn how best they can improve the way their VSLAs operate. Last year when Livelihood conducted the exchange visit, it led to improvement in record keeping and following the constitutions that govern the associations. This year, the IC Livelihood team hopes to see similar changes as the groups motivate one another to find ways to improve.
Otto Moses, whose VSLA group has been functioning for 6 months, was excited to learn from one of the groups in Atanga that has been operating its VSLA for 2 years now.
“We were advised to study the business environment and know what businesses are successful,” he said.
During the question-and-answer session of the visit, the young groups jotted down vital information they could get from the groups that had been in place long before them with the aim of passing on this information to their group mates back home. Emphasis was put on taking the associations seriously by following certain safeguards, like not borrowing money from the treasurer in the absence of all group members.
Afterwards, the visitors were treated to a number of performances and a delicious meal that made them feel at home. As he prepared to leave, Moses reflected that there are three key ideas he will take back with him to Lakwana – saving, hard work and investing.