Communities supported by the Siguiri Agricultural Development Activity are adopting the village savings and loan association model.
Access to finance is a major challenge for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and producer organizations in Guinea, especially in the agricultural sector. Village savings and loan associations (VSLAs) offer an alternative to traditional banking for many rural populations. VSLAs are self-managed groups of 15 to 25 people who meet regularly to collectively save their money, allowing members to access small loans for their farms or in emergency situations.
Funded by USAID and the global gold-mining company Société AngloGold Ashanti de Guinée, the Siguiri Agricultural Development Activity (SADA) is working to increase cashew producers and SMEs’ productivity and income in the Siguiri prefecture. Through technical and microgrant support, SADA established 20 VSLAs to develop a tailor-made and self-managed savings and credit system in Kintinian’s and Didi’s rural communities. In the first six months of training activities, which began in January 2022, these VSLAs have mobilized 216,662,000 GNF (24,713 USD). Among the 20 VSLAs, two have launched credit loaning activities to their members.
“At the beginning, we hesitated to join the VSLA… But after a few months, we noticed that our friends who have joined a VSLA have received training and help each other with funding problems. This is why we decided to create our VSLA.”-Kadia Camara, VSLA member
SADA’s interventions and positive influence have extended beyond just the communities it serves; the innovative pilot also generated enthusiasm in the neighboring communities. Four new VSLAs formed spontaneously in the villages of Kourouni, Nafadji, Daaba, and Didi Center. To date, these four VSLAs have 100 members, 76 percent of whom are women. The financial mobilization of the four VSLAs amounts to 15,960,000 GNF.
Moussa Sangare, president of the VSLA Fasso Djigui of Daaba, explained that the training and the savings mobilization strategy are two things that motivated his fellow members to institute their own VSLA system.
“We were attracted by the training that members receive on money management,” he said. “In addition, the mobilization of savings that we have seen in the VSLAs of neighboring villages like Didi and Nafadji is very interesting because this strategy allows us to save small amounts of money that we previously neglected, which we can now use to finance our agricultural activities in the future.”
The project will continue to support the new VSLAs through ‘‘village agents,’’ who are being trained and coached by the SADA team to expand and scale the VSLA model within the project area and beyond.
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