As a result of cultural barriers and gender inequalities, some women have experienced financial stress and hardship, in accessing funds for petty businesses and providing support to the family sustainably. The Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLA), offer opportunities for financial literacy trainings and easy access to funds at mutually agreed rates, of not more than single digit interest.
The Omolere Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA), a communal savings group was established at Zumuratu, Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government Area, Lagos with the support of USAID funded Integrated Child Health and Social Services Award (ICHSSA-2) project, being implemented by Association for Reproductive and Family Health (ARFH). Omolere which means “Child Heritage” was founded by just 10 members with the goal of bringing women together to cultivate savings culture and use those savings as investment capital. In addition, VSLA enables members to pool their resources and access basic financial services including small loans as needed.
ARFH through, its Community Case Managers trained the members on financial education and approved VSLA modules 1 to 7 consisting of the rules guiding the effective running and sustenance of a VSLA. Members get together once a week to save money and buy one to five shares at a predetermined price over a period of eight to twelve months. During the first year, the group’s membership grew to over 25 women, as a result of acceptance and increasing trust on the group. The Association progressed to establish two more groups in the Ajeromi LGA communities of Olusola and Apanpa. The Omolere VSLA received help from ARFH in the form of communal rental business items (chairs, tables, canopies, and drums) to enable income-generating activities, owing to the group’s resourcefulness, trust, and viability. The group held its annual share-out event, sharing accrued savings and interests, of over N500,000 among its members when it reached the 9-month cycle. Three group members also received business startup materials valued at a total sum of N120,000.
“Following ARFH’s training and assistance with the VSLA approach, we were inspired to establish credibility and manage a productive VSLA. We firmly believe that women’s financial security depends on their ability to access funds and invest wisely. We are all contented and making progress as a group”.
Today, Omolere VSLA groups are involved in the process of registering with the Local Government. In the long term, they hope to move from informal activity to more formal financial services. Savings and loans are essential for women to manage unforeseen situations and strengthen household economic resilience.