Damaris Makenzie and her family live in Minyalala in Kenya. Her three children attend Minyalala Primary School, and she is a member of the local Village Savings and Loans Group.
The development of the VSLA group in the Minyalala community has enabled families to be better prepared for unexpected setbacks and school fees. They have more freedom and flexibility and can recover more quickly from financial difficulties.
“I am the secretary of the VSLA group. There has been a big difference at home since I joined the VSLA group. Previously when my children were sent from school to collect fees for exams or extra lessons they would have to stay at home until we could raise the money. This was the same for many families across the community.”
“Now we get money from the group so the children don’t have to stay at home. I have chickens which I can sell for 500-600KSH [Kenyan Shillings] each. There are many small things that I can do with this. I pay school fees, for example, which are 70-100KSH per term. The fees are levied by the school management when they decide there is something they need to buy. The parents provide the money that the government cannot – we want our children to have the best opportunities, so we try and pay for exam fees and papers and sports equipment.”
“The group started this year  and we meet every Tuesday. We weren’t expected to pay in a particular amount – just what we can afford to contribute. We pay in 30KSH each, on average, and after a month there is a pool of money. We can borrow an amount dependant on the amount of money available and the need. The interest is 10% a week, which is quite high, but we all agreed that it was achievable.”
“I don’t have to beg from my neighbours anymore. I can even get my children to secondary school. I have managed to save up to 5000KSH with the group.”