In rural areas of Burkina Faso, 52 percent of people live below the poverty line. Women are most affected due to social constraints and their high illiteracy rate. This is accentuated by the inaccessibility of resources and revenue-generating business opportunities to women.
To address this problem, Plan International has been implementing the Women & Youth Saving for Empowerment (WYSE) project in four communities since 2013. In addition to the formation and management of Savings Groups, the project conducts awareness sessions on family planning, malaria, hygiene and sanitation, nutrition, HIV/AIDS, infant feeding, child protection, and education of children for group members.
The Savings Group, Songr La Panga, is one of five within the Barsa village in the community of Tikare. This group consists of 16 members and is in its third year.
The main ways in which members of the Songr La Panga group raise money are growing vegetables, as well as selling millet patties, balls of accasa, roasted peanuts, and artisanal gold in the dry season. Almost one in five members is under the age of 25. The Savings Group meets every Sunday and the minimum share purchased by each member is about 34 cents.
Minata Sawadogo is one of the keepers of the money box keys.
“I am a mother of five children, including four girls and one boy, and a grandmother to one grandson,” she said. “Currently, I am taking care of two of my children and my grandson. Both of them are students in secondary school. The grandson is about 3 years old.
“In the Barsa village, we are all farmers and our income is very meager. I thank God because through the Savings Groups set up by the WYSE project, we are able to save and borrow money for our gardening activities and the education of our children. With the loans that I received from the Savings Group, I improved my financial situation and paid for my daughter Azara’s school fees to study in junior high school in a nearby village. I also got an old bike repaired for her transportation to school. With additional funds, I just bought two bags of fertilizer to improve my gardening harvest, which I can sell to make more money for the children’s health care and education.
“Within the Savings Group, we are able to freely set the interest rate within our means. At the end of cycle the entire amount of the contribution and the interest is paid back to each member in equal proportion to their savings and interests.
“The WYSE project allows us to maintain solidarity among the group members and all other women in the entire community. Savings and interest generated by the loans enable us to increase our income and improve the health and education for our children and the entire family. The educational discussion sessions led by the WYSE project empower us to improve our living conditions and those of our families. Now, I can better care for my family and be a role model for other women in the village. I thrive and my children are not excluded from school for financial reasons.
“We also received educational discussion sessions that reinforced our capacity for economic empowerment. The savings and credit activities allowed us to increase our savings and our credit. This project contributes to the reduction of poverty in our community and therefore in our country.