The Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) is a scheme through which rural women get loan through the United Nations Development Program UNDP, and the United Nations Capital Development Fund UNCDF. The VSLA was recently launched in Greenville, Sinoe County.
The Chief Technical Advisor for Microfinance at the United Nations Development Program, Kenyeh Barlay, says UNDP and UNCDF support to women’s empowerment programs in Liberia is intended to address the acute poverty levels in the country and provide better opportunities for national growth and development.
Speaking at the launch of the Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) in Greenville, Sinoe County, Ms. Barlay said the VSLA is targeting women because they have a better record of loan repayment and undertaking sustainable development initiatives to support their families.
Addressing members of the Greenville VSLA, Ms. Barlay commended the Ministry of Gender and Development for the leadership in providing investment opportunities for rural women throughout the country.
The Greenville VSLA is the fourth establishment since the project was launched in 2009. The VSLA is supported by UNDP and UNCDF with funding from the government of Denmark. The association has a membership of more than 75 women who are mostly petty traders.
Members of the association have completed 2 weeks training in financial record keeping, organizational behavior and conflict identification and management. The training is spearheaded by the Ministry of Gender and Development with the assistance of a local NGO called Johncy Empowerment Inc. in the country.
Also speaking, the National Program Officer for the United Nations Capitol Development Fund (UNCDF) in Liberia Ms. Angelance Browne said the VSLA in Greenville is a pilot project in the southeastern region and the project would be replicated in other parts of the region if it is managed properly.
She admonished the women to remain steadfast in their fight against poverty by engaging in meaningful projects that will provide better opportunities for their families and communities. The VSLA will shortly be extended to Maryland County.
The program allows members to pull their financial resources together and provide loans to members to engage in micro-economic activities. The project is a stopgap measure for women who would normally not benefit from loan provided by banking institutions because of the lack of collateral.
In response, the women commended UNDP, UNCDF, UNIFEM and the Gender and Development Ministry for extending the VSLA to their region. They promised to cooperate fully with partner institution in the implementation of the program. They however appealed for extension of the program in other parts of the county.