Training communities in how to collectively save money and give out loans is one of the best ways to help develop business skills, not to mention fight poverty. And communities that have a secure financial future don’t have to sell their trees.
That’s why Cool Earth is keen that all our partnerships get saving.
This year, Wabumari local Community Facilitator, Daisy Halaba, took part in Village Saving and Loans Associations (VSLA) training with CARE International, a global initiative working to end poverty in rural communities.
Most of the people Cool Earth works with can’t access banks. They are too far away, it costs more to get there than the amounts people have to save, and the interest rates are too high. Using VSLAs means that even the poorest members of the community will have the opportunity to borrow and save. Savings groups are responsible for safeguarding their own finances, choosing their own interest rates and loan repayment periods. Each member makes decisions about where their money should be invested. And even better, villages where these savings groups have been set up have more women starting up businesses.
Following a series of workshops in Wabumari village to tell everyone about savings groups, Daisy will work closely with around 10-15 people to set up their own savings and loans association. The STALIE sewing group will be one of the first groups to benefit. Through the training they’ll have financial skills and resources that will mean they’re not just creating clothes, they’re creating security for their families and their forest.
So savings and loans don’t have to be boring. They can be the key to a future where forest communities are financially strong enough to resist the loggers. Saving the rainforest, one savings book at a time.