October 26, 2022

The Household Economic Strengthening Unit is a unit in Scripture Union West Africa (SUWA) that helps to plan and design ideas through which people are economically empowered to meet their various financial needs. One of the thematic focus of SUWA is Livelihood and Economic Empowerment of people. SUWA has done so much in this regard to alleviate the poverty of people, especially women and girls who are among the most vulnerable genders in the society. Women get involved in Income Generating Activities through the Self Help Groups. The Self Help Groups are broken down into Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA) where people come together to save money and get loans from the money saved to start a trade, improve their business or meet a pressing need. SUWA, through the Household Economic Strengthening Unit has set up hundreds of VSLA groups in several communities in Plateau, Kaduna, Benue and Taraba. The VSLA groups have been able to save Millions of naira which has helped members meet their needs.
Savings in VSLA is done by purchasing shares which must not exceed five (5) in every meeting. Each share has same value, e.g #200/share. A member who buys the whole five (5) shares pays #1000. Whoever cannot buy all five (5) is allowed to buy less than 5 shares. The money saved is given out to members as loan who will pay back within three months with an agreed interest. All members of the group are encouraged to save and also take loans to increase the value of the shares bought. Another principle of the VSLA is the Social fund, which allows members contribute a certain amount of money at every meeting (e.g #50 – #100) which is not part of the shares amount but serves as an avenue where financial support is given to members who are ill, getting married, put to birth, etc. At the end of the cycle, the balance in the social fund account is used to buy items that members of the group share. It could be food items like rice, oil, beans, drinks, etc. Also, at the end of the cycle which usually lasts between 9 – 12 months, the total money saved by the group is shared based on the number of shares bought by each member. Each share still maintains the same value as the interest made is divided by the total number of shares. With this, members are motivated to save so they can get loans and also imbibe savings culture. SUWA has recorded so many success stories from the Self Help Groups which now serves as a model for a lot of NGOs in Plateau State and beyond. Below are some of the success stories from beneficiaries of the VSLA program.

Firstly, I am very delighted to be a member of Teyei group. Two months after the formation of this group, my son was involved in an accident. It was indeed a difficult moment. Members of the group were there for me, they showed me love, and also supported me. This association is truly amazing. Secondly, I collected a loan of N10,000 from the group, which I used to purchase a bag of fertilizer for my farm. Also, I collected a second loan which I invested in my poultry business.

My name is Grace John, a member of Joy group. I collected the first loan of N7,000 in December 2020. I started the business of buying and selling of cassava flour (garri). I made profit. I was able to repay my loans and also continued to buy shares. I collected a second loan in February 2021. I collected the sum of N15,000, we used it to settle our daughters school fees. Part of it was also used to meet household needs, and I have been able to repay and continue to buy shares. This group is very helpful. Whoever that has not become a member of the savings group, is indeed missing a great opportunity.

 My name is Jochebed Achama. I thank God for this group- Byangzit savings group. Because since this group commenced savings activities, I have been a happy person. Before now, I was never engaged in any income generating activity. I was thinking of how and where to collect loan and start a business to be able to support my family, but there was none. The formation of this savings group has provided for me an opportunity to access loan. I collected a loan of N6,000 from the group. I used the money to buy 12 measures of beans at the rate of N500 per measure. I stored up the stuff for a while before selling. I sold a measure for N550 and I made a profit of N600. I am truly grateful to those who brought to us this initiative. 

Alisabatu David is my name. I am a member of Gwazibyang savings group, Attakar community, Kaduna state. I have been a member of this group since its inauguration in 2020. I am doing the business of buying and selling of raw guinea corn in measure. I also produce local drink from guinea corn (kunu). In March this year, in order to expand my business, I collected the loan of N10 000 from the group. My business is doing very fine. I can now buy more shares during savings meeting, and I have also been able to support my husband in meeting the needs of our children.

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