It was all joy for the Wun Zooya VSLA group members in Manguli in the Tamale Metropolitan area as they successfully went through their graduation, Wednesday.
The group is one of two in the community, where the Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA) initiative is being used by WUZDA Ghana to raise the habit of women both in saving and servicing of loans.
The Wun Zooya group made up of 14 women and one man, has been involved in this initiative for the past two years. The group members meet every Wednesday, with the sole purpose of purchasing shares or making contributions into a box (the VSLA Box), to take care of their future needs and to support their businesses and trade.
These contributions are made by way of them purchasing what is called “shares” and each share costs GH?5.00. There is also a 0.50P contribution which is made weekly by the members into a social fund.
There is an appointed secretary who records all the shares purchased in a book, and stamps in each member’s passbook according to the number of shares purchased.
The leadership of the group is chosen from among the members, especially the women, who are in charge of counting the money, those who keep the box, with three keys to the box divided amongst three other members known as the key holders.
According to the program officer for WUZDA Ghana, Ibrahim Abubakar, all these steps have been taken to ensure transparency and accountability, and to enhance the community ownership drive of the entire project.
The share outs on the day were done among the members, which saw them express joy and gratitude to WUZDA Ghana for bringing the VSLA initiative to the community, even though it is their own money.
According to them, before the VSLA was introduced, they had difficulties saving even the little money they do not need immediately, but the initiative has helped them solve that problem, as well as helping them cut down spending.
The highest receiver of the funds as her shares indicated in the record book and in her passbook took away GH? 498.00 including her share of the social fund which was distributed among them.
After the entire exercise, some of the women expressed concerns about challenges they face, especially the organizer, in getting all the women to convene for the meetings including the level of members’ participation in the exercises.
Some of them who spoke to WUZDA’s communication outfit indicated that some of the women would rather go to the market to do their trading than avail themselves for the almost 2 hour meeting which happens only once in a week.
According to them, even though it is important to go to the market because that is where they get the money to buy the shares or make their contributions, it is also important for all women to be available for the meeting, because they all came to an agreement from the beginning and resolved to meet on Wednesdays, which day is largely convenient for all members.
WUZDA Program Officer, Mr. Ibrahim assured them of the organization leading them to look at portions of their constitution that require review, to make it both stringent and flexible enough to ensure the whole process is successful at the end of the day.
He made them aware that the success of the VSLA entirely depends on them and the seriousness they inject into making it relevant to their community problems solution.
Based on the complaints some of the women raised with regards to participation, Ibrahim made it clear to them that from their own observation, they are free to make suggestions on which of the members are not showconshigh level of interest in participating without any tangible reasons, to be made to step aside.
He added that for new people who are willing to join the group, members can assess their potential commitments and if they are convinced, they can bring them to the notice of the leadership to be captured into the system at the next meeting.
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The Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA) initiative is one of four components of activities being implemented by WUZDA Ghana in the project, Farm Promoting Urban Waste For Food and Livelihood Security, funded by The Bread For The World, a donor agency in Germany.
The project which is winding up is showing positive signs of impact in all the areas of its activities and the two partners; WUZDA Ghana and Bread For The World are considering a scale up in a longer term phase.