Build Africa Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA) groups help communities thrive. Here we meet the women of the Umoja VSLA group in Gilgil, Kenya.
The group formed in 2010, with the aim of helping women buy household goods and water tanks.
Mary is the group’s chairperson. She said: “When we learned about the VSLA methodology and how we would grow our money while helping ourselves, we immediately went to the bank and withdrew our money.”
“We then put the money in the kitty and started saving 200 (Kenyan shillings) every month, we are happy since from July 2014 we now have about 100,000 (Kenyan shillings). The saving is helping members to run their farms and grow their businesses. “
Other women in the group also shared their experiences:
“I am happy since I am now able to get a loan and buy seeds and fertilizer for farming. I feel proud that I can now grow my potatoes with fertilizer which was unheard of in most of our farms in the village.” - Lucy
“Initially most of us were afraid of loans, since we only knew of the bank loans which are very cumbersome, but since we learnt about the VSLA we are happy to grow our own money. It took almost one year for someone to get some loan through our arrangement earlier, now you can get some money every month.” - Rebecca
“I took a loan of 3,000 (Kenyan shillings) from the group bought some seeds for potatoes and after three months I harvested potatoes and sold them earning more than 10,000 (Kenyan shillings). My husband is happy that I contributed to the farm and he is happy when I mention that I will be going to the group meeting, he encourages me to keep on saving.” - Eunice
“When I took a loan of 10,000 (Kenyan shillings), I went and bought a donkey, which has been very helpful in transportation, the donkey is called Toto and helps me in carrying water from the river, the donkey also helps in transporting the harvest from the farm to our home and to the market. I also make some money with it when community members hire it for transportation. I feel relieved with the donkey since I do not have to carry heavy things or pay for them to be carried.” - Elizabeth
“After the post-election violence in 2007, our property was destroyed and our house burnt, we then started living in a paper made house. After taking some loan which helped us to grow with fertilizer, I was able to harvest a lot of food, which I sold and used the money to build a better house, I am happy since we have a better house where my family and I stay without fear of rains or strong winds.” - Teresiah