In CREATE!’s partner community of Diender, the women’s Voluntary Savings and Lending Association (VSLA) met last week to conclude their first nine-month savings and lending cycle. For rural residents who may not be able to read or write and whose needs are rarely met by for-profit financial institutions, VLSA provides an appropriate and transparent system for group saving, lending, and social insurance. Association members save small amounts of money each week and then make loans to each other to cover business, personal, and household costs. Most association members are able to save a portion of the profits they received from participating in CREATE!’s cooperative community garden programs.
During the first savings and lending cycle, VSLA participants in Diender discovered that they were able to save more money than they anticipated. Women in Diender report that participation in the VSLA has enriched their lives – they are “happy and grateful” to CREATE! for the opportunity. Although each VSLA is self-managed by associate members, CREATE! staff have been instrumental in training and oversight during this first savings and lending cycle in Diender. Association members in Diender began their second nine-month savings and lending cycle on May 15th.