Planís Village Savings and Loan Project Creates New Opportunities for Villagers in Kailahun
Plan’s Village Savings and Loan (VSL) project is giving the residents of Kailahun access to financial services that will enable them to start new businesses, manage financial resources, meet consumption needs, and create social and economic investments that will benefit their children.
Eleven years of civil war in Sierra Leone left the educational and health infrastructures of the Kailahun district in shambles. Women and young girls were returning home with little or no education and few livelihood skills that would enable them to make a decent living.
To help solve this problem, Plan introduced the Village Savings and Loan project in 2005. The project focuses on enhancing the economic skills of residents and increasing the number of resources available to children.
Thirty-two year old Lahai is a single-parent raising four children. His previous job as a motor bike driver barely covered the cost of groceries and only covered tuition costs for two of his four children.
‘’One day, Mr. Jibbao, Plan’s field agent came to Bunumbu, my village in Kailahun, and introduced the VSL project and how it transforms lives. I immediately volunteered and helped him to form the “Muloma” group, which means “let us unite”. We are 25 with mostly women and girls,” he says.
Plan explained the VSL process and offered participants literacy and financial training. Members of the “Muloma” group were also trained in raising livestock and business enterprise development. This form of business training enables participants to concept, strategize, and execute business plans.
Lahai began by purchasing two shares of $5 every week. His first loan enabled him to purchase and sell fish. He used the profits from this business to send his other two children to school. He then increased his purchase of shares from two to four per week.
In just two years, Lahai has invested in rice planting and has taken out second loan to purchase manure and hire help.
‘’During our share out in December of 2012, I made a profit of $300. The VSL project has greatly helped me in restoring my dignity as a man, undergo business skills and adult literacy training, and get married. Above all, I can now afford to pay for my children’s tuition and supplies,” he says.