How Village Savings Empowered This Single Mom to Be an Entrepreneur

Meet this hardworking and persistent single mother named Apophenia who is using a VSLA group at her local CarePoint to grow as an entrepreneur! Apophenia resides in Kakira, Uganda with her two children who are both involved at their local CarePoint, located along the shores of Lake Victoria.

The town of Kakira experiences excellent climate and the soils are suitable for growing various crops–especially sugar. In fact, Kakira is dominated by the sugar industry and is often referred to as “Sugar Town”.

Sugar crops in Kakira

As a result, there are two distinct castes within Kakira. One, being the Kakira sugar estates – made up of wealthy families who own and manage the sugar companies, and the rest of the community – made up of impoverished and vulnerable families.

Apophenia would fall into the latter category, but she certainly does not let that define her or stop her from achieving her dreams. 

You see, Apophenia is an extremely hard worker who will do just about anything to provide for her two children. For a few years, that looked like working the night shift at her town’s local sugar factory. This was not her dream job by any means, but she was working at the factory because it was her best bet for her family’s survival.

It wasn’t even on Apophenia’s radar to consider taking out a small business loan to start a new venture because most banks in her community would consider her too risky. Even if she could get a loan, the interest rates could be as high as 24%. These are just a few of the challenges that Apophenia, and other Ugandan HopeChest guardians, face.

A Kakira sugar plant

In 2020, Apophenia lost her job at the factory. She began doing anything to provide for her family, including odd jobs such as making pancakes. Then, one day, Apophenia attended a training for CarePoint guardians on a group savings program called Village Savings & Loans Associations (VSLA).

Kakira CarePoint partners with local Ugandan experts to offer training and education on VSLA groups. VSLA’s provide a bucket of funds for guardians to contribute to and borrow from within Kakira to help provide capital to start small businesses, as well as meeting other basic needs. These savings groups are self-managed groups of 15 to 25 people who meet regularly to save their money, access small loans, and obtain emergency insurance. 

VSLA’s help CarePoint guardians access and manage their own basic financial services that are:

  • independent
  • self-managed
  • transparent
  • accessible
  • secure
  • profitable

Members of the group commit to making a weekly deposit into their VSLA group. The money doesn’t go to a bank, but is pooled and held in a lock box in a secure place. Each week the VSLA members meet as a group, make their deposits, and members of the VSLA can also prepare a proposal to present to the committee seeking a loan. The loans are most often used for starting a business, but may also be used for causes such as improving their home, paying education fees, or funding some other community project.

When Apophenia heard about her local VSLA Group, it immediately sparked her interest. She signed up for the required training and joined the group as fast as she could. 

She began saving, which she used to start a small retail shop! She secured a loan from the group to boost her business as she continued saving. Now, with a thriving business and some financial stability, Apophenia is able to fully support her family and provide for all their needs! She even plans to purchase land for her children at the end of the saving cycle, which is about 1 year long. She is grateful for the community and friendships she made in her VSLA group, and all their support as she started her new business.

”The joy I have with my family today is because of the wise decision I made to join the Saving and Loan Association.”

– Apophenia

VSLA’s are an important part of Children’s HopeChest’s work of building a sustainable and healthy community. VSLA’s offer secure and accessible savings that empower locals to step into entrepreneurship and unlock new dreams that they never thought were possible. That’s why VSLA’s not only change personal lives, but they also support the whole community’s growth. 

Help set people like Apophenia on the path to success. Get involved today.