The Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs Isata Kabia has launched the Village Savings and Loan Scheme project in order to build the financial capacity of women in rural communities.
The launching ceremony was done during the commemoration of International Women’s Day IWD March 8th 2018, at the ministry’s conference hall New England Ville in Freetown.
Launching the project Madam Kabia describes the scheme as a village bank owned exclusively by the villagers. She said the scheme is a partnership between the ministry and the women of Sierra Leone. The aim of the project she said, is to help transform the lives of rural women and to encourage them to save their money for future purposes.
She maintained that the scheme is very helpful and if the women put seriousness to it they will reap it benefit. “I once introduce this scheme when I was serving as Member of Parliament in Lunsar and it was successful and helpful,” she stated, adding that her aim was to ensure that she introduces the scheme across the country.
Explaining how the scheme works, the Welfare Minister said the ministry had brought together 150 women segmented into five groups. Each group she said will comprise 30 women who will come together and choose a particular amount they will contribute weekly into a giant metallic box given to them by the ministry in which they deposit their saving for future use. She said members would later loan members of the group substantial amounts on an interest free basis.
Three locks with three members holding custody of the keys would guaranty the safety of the community savings, she advised.
Minister Kabia promised to deposit a minimum of Le 1, 000, 000 (one million Leones) in each of the boxes as a startup so as to encourage the groups to continue from there. She assured them that the ministry would more women into the scheme if the current groups succeeded in maintain their cash inputs into the community savings vaults.
Coordinator of the scheme Sheku Kanu explained that the village saving and loan scheme is established purely to encourage women to imbibe the culture of saving little resources. He said the project caters for women who are involved in small scale businesses to give them the opportunity to save a particular amount weekly.
He however stated that the scheme will enable economic empowerment of women and will give them the chance to be self-reliant. He encourages the immediate beneficiaries to be proactive as the success of the scheme lies squarely in their hands.
Reporting by Bampia James Bundu