In October, CREATE! field technicians began building savings and lending skills in rural Senegal by training cooperative members in Walo, Gagnick Mack, and Darou Diadji in Voluntary Savings and Lending Association (VSLA) techniques. About 180 people participated in these training sessions. 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. These two-day training sessions covered the basics of savings and lending through VSLA, including techniques to ensure the proper handling and securing of money.
Field technicians will continue to work with participants to help them form VSLAs in their communities. Once VSLAs are established, association members will 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.