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Village savings schemes transforming women's lives in Ethiopia

22 March 2012

Women make contributions to shared savings at a Village Savings and Lending Association meeting











Our Rural Women’s Empowerment Project is transforming the lives of women in remote rural regions of Ethiopia. These women all too often have very few assets of their own and very limited opportunities to make money compared to their male counterparts.

But all this has been changing in recent months thanks to Farm Africa’s work to establish Village Savings and Lending Associations (VSLAs). A total of £79,000 in savings has already been built up among these remote rural groups, which means that more than 13,000 women are now able to save and access credit for the first time.

Each member of the savings and loans group pays a small fee to join the group which helps to build the group’s shared income. Members can also apply to the group for small loans to help them set up small businesses. These loans are repayable after three months with 10% interest.

The scheme is having dramatic results. A savings culture is being built in these remote areas with rural women gaining the confidence to set money aside for the first time to save and make plans for their future.

One woman who has seen her life transformed as a result of her learning about savings and loans is Aster Wotango, Chairwoman of the Aheba Womens’ Group. She explains that in the past members of her communities had no culture of savings. When they needed credit, women were forced to borrow at rates often as high as 50%. But since the savings and loans group was established in her village she has been able to borrow some money from the group to buy four hens so she could earn some income from the sale of eggs. She is now able to save 4% of her income, which she is able to use to help pay for essential household goods and medical expenses.

Other members of the Aheba Women’s Group have borrowed money to establish similar small enterprises in butter, cornflour, spices, coffee, peas, cheese, injera, local beers, avocadoes and mangoes.

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