Teresa Tsotsane from Our Sea Our Life (OSOL) project’s implementing partner in Mozambique AMA, wanted to share the inspiring stories of some of the women she has met so far who are members of the local community banks that OSOL has helped to set up. These are known as VSLAs (Village Savings and Loans Associations) and are a global and proven development model for self-help financial services, where groups of 10-25 people meet weekly to save money together. They then use the money they have saved to lend to one another - which they commonly use to invest in food, their houses and education. ZSL has taken an innovative approach in the Philippines, Mozambique and Cameroon that empowers VSLAs to inspire bold and inclusive conservation action for the future of members and their children.
OSOL helped set up these community banks in the fishing villages of Cabo Delgado, Northern Mozambique where, due to high population pressures, fish is an important food and income source. Currently women represent 50% of the VSLA members here (209 in total), and there are 3 VSLA groups which are formed exclusively of women. The VSLAs have so far been able to save around 20,000 EUR, they also provide opportunities for women to unite and to drive change, to invest in themselves and in marine conservation, enabling a platform for gender equitable fisheries management.
My name is Teresa Tsotsane, as part of my job within AMA (Associacao do Meio Ambiente) for the ‘Our Sea Our Life’ (OSOL) project, I get to witness, first-hand, the positive impact of the project for the women in communities within my home country- Mozambique. The last few months I have travelled to the communities and met some of the members of the local community banks that OSOL has helped to set up. I wanted to share the inspiring stories of some of the women I’ve met so far. The second story of this series, shared here, is about a woman called Fato Momade Abede, who is now proudly the president of her community savings group in Quiwia, Cabo Delgado:
Meet Fato Momade Abede, 49 years old, from Quiwia in Cabo Delgado.
Fato is a member of the Umodja Ndo Nguvo (meaning Together We Are Stronger) VSLA group. She found out about the savings groups through OSOL’s outreach work in the community, during which VSLAs were explained to community members. She was keen to join, and after making a list of interested people, they followed the procedures to start the group and are now in the 4thyear. She decided to join so she could save and maximise the little money she has. Since joining herself, she has also motivated others to join too, and she is now the president of this VSLA!
Fato makes a living from octopus fishing. After joining the VSLA, she has been able to start a small capulana (traditional clothing) business and her life has improved. In her day-to-day, Fato says she has noticed that the VSLAs are beneficial for the whole group and that the community has started to value the savings activities. Her family’s meals have also improved: before the VSLAs she was only able to buy small amounts of rice, now she can afford to buy large bags for the family. She is also now able to rent a motorbike to get to the hospital, so she no longer needs to walk the long distance as before.
Fato took out a VSLA loan with an aim to build a stall for her children to manage, but this wasn’t a success. She now uses loans to purchase capulanas for her business, she gets these from Tanzania to sell in Quiwia, with her children’s help. The VSLA savings for her group started at 25MZN (US$0.41) and are now at 50MZN (US$0.83), the Social Fund was 5MZN (US$0.08) and has also doubled to 10MZN (US$0.17). From the last VSLA distribution she was able to buy a solar panel, a battery and a lamp for her house, and also saved some money to go towards her capulana business. The VSLAs have also so far enabled Fato to buy things to improve her home, such as cement, a table, a mattress, a bed and even a door!
Stay tuned for the next mini-blog in this series...
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