Once a week, Aida Diakhaté meets with other women in the community of Keur Daouda to deposit their savings and collectively make decisions on loan disbursement. Several years ago, many women had to work with money-lenders outside of the village who often charged high-interest prices. Aida told us that she had tried to start her own village-level savings group before but wasn’t able to succeed since she didn’t have a model. However, CREATE! offered training in Keur Daouda for women to develop and run their own village-level savings through VSLAs (Voluntary Savings and Lending Associations). “With the VSLA I have the opportunity to save money, it helps me to support my family and I don’t need to leave the village to get a loan,” Aida tells us.
Increasing Financial Literacy within Village-Level Savings Groups
Through CREATE!’s programs, many women are now independently making income from Keur Daouda through vegetable and poultry sales. CREATE!’s technicians provide basic financial literacy skill training so women can manage and invest their income within the village. “The VSLA is different from the old saving because with the VSLA we have the possibility to save money and make loans for satisfying our needs. In the VSLA there is transparency, security and it is very organized,” Aida explains.
Associations, made up of 10-25 people, are women-led and include all levels of literacy. “We share our saving during holidays like Tabaski and the sum we get helps us a lot,” Aida tells us. The associations not only provide financial literacy but also support each member’s unique needs. “Our children’s future is very important, that’s why I hope we keep the projects for them because it is sustainable,” Aida shares. VSLAs are a sustainable and successful part of our income generation programs, village-level savings empower women to lift themselves out of poverty.