Promoting Women’s Economic Empowerment

Madame Nanu Happily enjoying the company of her family

Promoting women’s economic empowerment and gender equality is one of the key Millennium Development Goals (MDG), a goal that is strategic to the work of UNDP Kokoyah Millennium Village Project (KMVP). Empowering women is not only central to fighting extreme poverty but also helps in attaining MDG 3- which calls for “enhancing gender equality and women empowerment”.

In a far away village of Ulah in Central Bong County,  a mother of 5 children and 13 grand children says she is currently utilizing business skills attained from UNDP‘s Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) training to sustain her family.

Highlights

  • The 8-day training facilitated by a local NGO called Rural Women Welfare Committee (RUWECO) was a pilot project that focused on the formation of a Village Savings and Loan Association and training of the beneficiaries in business management.
  • Results of the VSLAs are proving interesting with a cumulative savings of $146, 800 to $343,440 Liberia dollars between three and six months.

54 year old Pallar Nanu was among 40 women and 10 men trained in Ulah District. The beneficiaries were trained in the area of business management which includes creating and managing small businesses as well as record keeping at the village level.

The 8-day training facilitated by a local NGO called Rural Women Welfare Committee (RUWECO) was a pilot project that focused on the formation of a Village Savings and Loan Association and training of the beneficiaries in business management. In Liberia, women in a typical traditional society where banking institutions are non-existent, usually form what is locally called susu clubs which help them generate income through weekly or daily savings.  Interest is dependent on how much you save.

“I’m very happy with the VSLA programme you have brought here to train us in small business and linking us to the Central Bank of Liberia loan” Madame Nanu excitedly emphasized.

She was able to save $9,525 Liberian dollars and became a proud beneficiary of a $12,000 Liberia dollars loan from the Central Bank of Liberia. The 54 year old grandmother says she used that money to purchase a pair of pigs at the cost of $6,000 Liberian dollars.  “This VSLA programme has really helped me. My pig delivered fifteen (15) piglets and I’m selling one piglet at 4,500 Liberian dollars. Just recently, I sold one piglet and used the money to buy materials for the construction of our house” Madame Nanu smilingly narrated.

According to her, she has hired laborers to help construct her house from the sales made on the pigs. “I will keep feeding and taking care of the pigs, so that when they are grown, I can sell one for $8,000 Liberia dollars and use the money for my up keep and to buy medicine when I fall sick”.  Already, Nanu has made a cassava farm which she uses to feed the pigs and she has also purchased wires to build a fence for the pigs.

“We were never trained on how to save and manage our money and had no idea on business management. Thanks to VSLA, I’m now able to manage my business “says Nanu.

In addition to the piglets Madame Nanu says she has also used some of her savings and loan to engage in the sale of frozen Chicken feet.  “The medicine you see in my house was bought with part of the Village savings used to engage in the sale of frozen chicken and this money is also being used to help educate six of my grand children”. In fact, the VSLA Trainee says she has already been able to pay $1,365 Liberian dollars as part of the $12,000 Liberian dollars loan she received from the Central Bank.

Results of the VSLAs are proving interesting with a cumulative savings of $146, 800 to $343,440 Liberia dollars between three and six months. On the other hand, a social fund to assist members in times of trouble like deaths, illnesses and others amount to $9,375 Liberian dollars.

The social fund is raised from fines by members who violate the by-laws of the association, while proper fund for the association is generated by individual members who buy shares and invest in the association through loans with a little interest.

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