The Village Saving and Loan Association (VSLA) concept is a method of collective financial development that is playing an increasingly major role in Kismayo and locations around the transitional city of Jubaland state.
‘’The LEAP programme and the small investment mobilized through the support among VSLA groups enabled me to open my own small kiosk to be run by my family and we started earning daily income, and we also received training on climate-smart agriculture and supply chains and post-harvest handling processes and management of community-based storage facilities, which transformed our lives and increased our ability to grow resilient crops in a short period of time,’’ says Nadifo Mohamed, a beneficiary of the LEAP programme and representative of the group of women who took part in the training.
Through 20 VSLA groups established in Kismayo and Baidoa, 1000 women were trained and supported.
“These groups allow women to pool funds and support each other. They have a Savings Fund, which allows women to pool funds collectively and each month one of them uses the money collected to start a small-scale business, and a Social Fund that allows women to support each other in times of need. We trained women how to run VSLAs, how to save money, borrow and start businesses. Members of each group wrote their own constitution and elected key leaders such as the chairperson, treasurer and secretary, and they will continue this arrangement even after completing on the project,” says Ahmed Ali, Acting Kismayo Office Manager, CARE Somalia.
Speaking about the impact of the project, Adar Ismail Abdullahi, Minister of Women, Family Affairs, and Human Rights of Jubaland said that only 20 per cent of selected women could read and write, while for 80 per cent of them these trainings were the first learning opportunity in their lives.
“It is a project that is very dear to my heart. I have worked on various projects supporting women, but I have not seen a project that benefitted women as much as this LEAP project. Women came to me crying, saying that their life will never be the same anymore, that they made friends, forgot past tensions, and learned valuable skills,” she said.
Women were brought together from various parts of Kismayo, and none of these women knew each other before. In addition to project’s main objectives, the project became a reconciliation tool, as many women came from various opposing tribes and had long-standing ethnic tensions and hatred towards each other.
‘’I urge UN Women and the Government of Japan to continue this important contribution to the livelihoods of Somali women and I hereby recommend expanding this programme as it is aligned to our priorities of climate-smart agriculture, drought resilience and building sustainable livelihoods for our women and girls,’’ says Geele Mohamed Adan, expressing his gratitude for UN Women and Government of Japan.