A 148-member women?s group in the Bongo District has over three years, contributed an amount of 500,000 Ghana Cedis under the Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLAs).
Under the scheme, the group was trained to make little savings over a period of time, and then started giving out small loans from the money to members to undertake trading activities, including basket and leather weaving, pito brewing, selling of foodstuffs and provisions, among others.
The scheme was introduced to them by the former Upper East Regional Minister, Dr Ephraim Nsoh Avea, to curb rural poverty and rural urban migration in the Bongo District of the Upper East Region.
Speaking at the third Anniversary of the Bongo Village Savings and Loans Associations, majority of the women gave testimonies that the model had come to redeem them, by reducing poverty, and making it unnecessary for them to travel to the south to do menial jobs.
?Hitherto we used to travel to Kumasi and Accra to do menial jobs just to be to fend for our children?s education and to take care of the family. But since the introduction of the Village Savings and Loans Associations we no longer go since we?re are able to take loans from the scheme to undertake economic activities here. We can now pay for our children?s education, their National Health Insurance Scheme as well as feed them very well. We thank Dr Avea very much for introducing us to this good intervention.? Mrs Adompoka Akolgo said.
The former Regional Minister indicated that the model was one of the major tools that could be used to address poverty issues in the deprived areas of the entire region, and impressed upon the Upper East Regional Co-ordinating Council together with the Municipal and District Assemblies, to adopt the concept to help fight poverty and rural urban migration.
He stated that organizations such as Plan Ghana, SILDEP and CARE International, had the technical know-how on the scheme and could be contacted to build the capacity of the rural women to start the process.
He explained that what informed him to begin the concept in the Bongo District was that as a lecturer, he spent time outside his regular teaching and research time, to read materials on entrepreneurship, business and investment and personnel development, and decided to impart the knowledge to his students, as an alternative livelihood programme to prepare them adequately to face life after school.
He said upon second thought, he decided to transport the idea to his community where poverty was endemic which led to the institutionalization of the Bongo Village Savings and Loans Association, with support from his graduate student, Mr Luri Moses Dramani, who is the founder of SILDEP, a Community NGO based in Tumu.
?Our next target is to have a microfinance organization. The objectives are three fold, which is to enable members borrow for long term, to expand their savings, and widen borrowing amount, to grow savings faster and create more wealth for them. Our ultimate aim is to have a women bank for Bongo?
The occasion which attracted chiefs and elders, assembly members, youth and women groups, was used to honour the former Regional Minister for introducing the intervention in the area.