Saturday, September 13, 2014

Another Week in the Field for Ashley

A new month and new projects. This month Ashley is working with her counterparts finishing up training on trenches for groups who haven’t received trainings and starting trainings on VSLAs. Finally some finance stuff for Ashley and she even got to facilitate all of the trainings for the week.

So, what is a VSLA? Village Savings and Loan Associations are formed by groups within the community, in this case the members of the agriculture self help groups have formed their own VSLAs. These people, in many cases, do not have access to lenders and these associations provide a way for the farmers to both save and take out loans when needed. Most groups meet weekly or monthly and there is minimum amount they are suppose to save each month. The group is completely self-governed and ran and my role is to provide training to support and strengthen their groups. The majority of the groups had not received any formal training on VSLAs but instead took the knowledge from other groups they had been in and applied it.

Many of the groups had run in to the same problem. Each person was saving the minimum and nothing more. This for one limits their personal saving as well as the interest they can earn and limits the amount of funds available to the group as a whole for loans.  The main fear: someone takes a loan and never pays it back and they lose all of their money.  Thankfully I worked in personal loans for 5 years and was able to give the groups good advice and guidance to solve these issues. I also introduced the concept of member passbooks and ledger cards to improve bookkeeping with some groups. The groups use notebooks that stay with the treasure that have all of the group’s savings and loan records. What happens if they lose these books and better yet how does each member know and have proof of how much they have saved or owe in loans? That is where the importance of the members books come in so each member has their own records so in the case that the main book is lost or stolen they have a back-up. Overall this week was a success and went very well.

One group practicing filling out the new ledgers and member's passbooks

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