What if you wanted to take out a small business loan to start a venture so you could support your family, but the banks in your local community considered your financial status too risky? What if, even if you could get a loan, the interest rate was as high as 24%?
These are just a couple of the challenges that the guardians of children at HopeChest’s Uganda CarePoints face. Adults who want to work hard to provide for their children and become financially independent often hit a wall when trying to get up and going.
To address these challenges, HopeChest partners with local Ugandan experts to conduct trainings on group savings programs called Village Savings & Loans Associations (VSLA). 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 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 building or improving their home, or paying education fees, or funding some other community project.
Loans are charged 10% interest and when repaid, the interest goes into the VSLA account which is then paid out as profit to all the members based on their percentage of savings over the year. They then start the VSLA all over again for the next year. This program is having a tremendous impact on the villages in which we work as the notion of saving, investing, and capital return are sown into the communities.
Meet these four hardworking and persistent women in Uganda who are using VSLA groups at their local CarePoints to become entrepreneurs!
Like many parents in the Ngariam community, Margret was working hard, but her daily income was unable to support her family and relatives. She joined VSLA at her local CarePoint to pursue more opportunities, which she described as being an eye opener. Through her small but consistent daily savings, she has progressed more than she could ever imagine! Joining the VSLA helped Margaret to save until she was able to buy a cow and provide food for her family. Now she plans to save so her daughter can enroll in a good school next year!
“At first I joined the group without really knowing how things would turn out, which made me less committed and unserious in the first days of my savings,” Margret recalls. “I am now able to save part of what I earn and the remaining balance I use for getting basic needs like soap, sugar, salt, and others. Long live Children’s HopeChest!” she told Ngariam staff, with a beaming smile.
Hodira has four children. Her daughter Ritah is in primary two and attends the Murole CarePoint. Hodira is now a single mother after losing her husband to an illness that he fought for five years. When her husband was sick, all of their family’s resources went to keeping him in good health with the hopes that he would survive and become their primary provider again. His death was devastating for the family, leaving Hodira to use the small resources they had to take care of her children.
Once Ritah joined Murole CarePoint, Hodira quickly jumped into the programs available for parents and guardians. She was equipped with parenting skills, joined the VSLA group, and was trained in basic business skills. Since joining VSLA, she has been able to start a small business and now has a stall in the daily market in Rubanda town council. She sells fruits, vegetables, and sugar cane!
Hodira shared, “My hope is restored. I have been able to improve on my house, and at least I can provide some necessities to my children. I am grateful to God for causing this CarePoint in our area. It has opened my eyes and changed my life. My life has greatly improved due to the support I have received from Murole CarePoint. I thank God that I can now earn some money.”
Apulegeria is a 78-year-old widow. She has one child who has eight children and also has great grandchildren, three of whom attend Adacar CarePoint. When HopeChest started the VSLA project at Adacar in 2016, she paid the membership fee, attended the trainings, and decided to join one of the groups. Through the weekly savings program, this group has helped her to save her money. The funds she puts in the group partly comes from selling her produce. With VSLA, she is able to borrow money to support her great grandchildren with scholastic materials and also support herself. Out of her first cycle of savings she bought a goat, which produced twins. The second cycle of savings was used for supporting her great grandson’s school fees and supporting her other great grandchildren, as well as paying off her debts.
“The savings project has been beneficial to me. I am able to borrow money at a low interest rate and return the loan. I thank God for this project, because it has supported small income earners like us. I bought a goat, which produced twins,” says Apulegeria about her success.
Roselyne has two children who attend the Murole CarePoint. She has been the sole provider for her family since her husband passed away. Her life changed dramatically after this loss.
She shared that once her children joined the CarePoint, her life went through a great change. She is now a member of the savings group, has benefited from the CarePoint goat project, and is active in CarePoint self-help projects. From the goat project she was able to boost both her secondhand clothes business and her Irish potato growing project. She is quick to say that she has seen her life change due to the holistic support from Murole CarePoint.
Roselyne explains, “I see my family’s life improving every day. The support I have received from Children’s HopeChest, and particularly from Murole CarePoint, has caused me to change my mindset and focus on positive things. Who would have supported me to start improving the life of my children!”