Empowering women in Mozambique - part 3

by Ana Pinto on

Teresa Tsotsane from Our Sea Our Life (OSOL) project’s implementing partner in Mozambique Associacao do Meio Ambiente (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 for the 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 third story of this series, shared here, is about a woman called Fatuma Alfane, who is now proudly the president of her community savings group in Quiwia, Cabo Delgado:

Meet Fatuma. She lives in Quirinde in Cabo Delgado, Northern Mozambique. She's a member of a VSLA group since it was established, and it is now in its 4th year! Fatuma first heard of VSLAs from OSOL's outreach activities delivered in Quirinde by AMA's Julio Biche, who explained the VSLA process and its benefits. She decided to join as she saw this as an opportunity to change hers and her family’s life. She has been able to save enough to buy zinc to cover her house- to protect it from fires.

Fatuma Alfane
Fatuma Alfane

She likes to be part of the VSLA, and has encouraged many others to join. She particularly values the social fund as it allows the VSLA members to help each other in case of emergencies such as disease or house destruction. The VSLA also allows her to dream! She dreams of a house made of aluminum. The only thing she doesnt like about the VSLAs is the amount of noise made during VSLA meetings- everyone talks too loudly!  

Fatuma’s main livelihood is octopus fishing. She also works in agriculture, she has her own crop and since joining the VSLA she has also started to work on other people’s crops to increase her income.  

She has noticed that socially, the people in the community now see her as someone who has the income to improve her own life, Fatuma says ‘the woman before the community savings is different from the woman after the community savings’ as people can see that her life has improved! She no longer has to walk to the hospital in Quionga, she can afford to rent a motorbike now.

Fatuma has not taken out a loan yet. The contributions in her VSLA have doubled from the intial 25MZN (US$0.41) to 50 MZN (US$0.83) and to 10MZN (US$0.17) for the social fund.

At the last distribution for her VSLA, there was a big party where members celebrated by singing and dancing. Fatuma has saved the money from the last distribution to make some house improvements. 

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