In 2019, KRC introduced the VSLA plus model to Kyangwali and Kyaka II Refugee Settlements targeting Extremely Vulnerable Individuals under the Access, Protection Empowerment Accountability and Learning (APPEAL) consortium. To date, there are 100 VSLA groups being mentored and coached by KRC in both settlements. Among these groups is Tujenge VSLA group found in Mombasa Zone Kyangwali Refugee Settlement.
Tujenge was formed in 2019 by 3 0 members who has just arrived from the Democratic Republic of Congo and most of them did not know how VSLAs work. According to the group members, they reveal that most of them were used of saving individually at home in wooden boxes, under the mattress and or in holes. The group that is most comprised by 77 percent women was trained in the VSLA methodology in July 2019 by Peter Eshiolo, a KRC staff. He trained on group formation and general assembly, VSLA concepts, leadership, record keeping, conflict resolution and action audit.
After the training sessions ended, we then started putting together small amounts of money on a weekly basis for 3 months and our share value was 2000 Ugx with a maximum share of five. By doing this, members were given an opportunity to borrow money to start micro enterprises thus economically empowering the women. In addition to the saving, members also contributed 200 Ugx for social fund and 200 Ugx for EVI fund.
During the meetings, members are seen converging around the saving box in a semi-circle in order for the whole group to witness and participate in all financial transactions. The secretary then reads out our names and whoever has not come pays a fine of 200 Ugx. December 2020 was a month for sharing out, and the group had accumulated a total of 985,000 Ugx in savings, total interest from loans of 145,000 Ugx, total social fund of 145,200 Ugx and total EVI fund of 21,500 Ugx.
The 2021 saving cycle started on 15th January with a total of 24 members (16F, 8M) since other group members had relocated back to Congo. The group members have been empowered through trainings on Linkages between protection and financial inclusion with a major emphasis on Gender Based Violence (GBV) mitigation measures, protection risk mitigation-development of vision maps, the Gender Action Learning and COVID-19 information dissemination. This year’s cycle was affected by COVID-19 lockdown. The lockdown meant the closure of social gatherings and markets which affected the group day to day activities of some VSLA groups.
Tujenge Group, continued saving meetings in observance of the Standard Operating Procedures like washing hands with soap, putting on masks and social distancing. We used to save in shifts of 5 members to avoid congestion. Todate, the group has accumulated a total savings of 1,836,000 Ugx. Members have been able to access loans at a 10% interest rate whereas none members borrow at 20%. As a result of this, 5 group members have started micro businesses of selling silver fish (Mukene), cassava flour and posho and 4 members are into small livestock rearing. Tujenge is grateful to KRC, CARE International and ECHO for the support.
A member’s personal success story
Jackline Nyiramugisha, a 32-year-old Congolese and mother of 5, a member of Tujenge VSLA group, attests the benefits of her participation in the group.
The VSLA has been very beneficial to a lot of us in this village. I personally have been able to save money that I used to start up a business which has helped me access many things that I could not easily afford, such as clothing, food and medical needs for my children. I am happy that even amidst COVID-19, I have been able to have access to credit which I use to invest in livestock rearing such as chicken and goats which I later sale with a profit. Such profit earnings have sustained by family through having cash to buy food, take care of my medical bills among others things. My 14-year-old girl was enrolled to the YSLA group and has been able to save and also be trained on making of shoes which puts a smile on my face.
Besides this, I have been able to access trainings on COVID-19 response and have been able to move around my community encouraging them to adhere to SOPs.