A community on the path to social development through Village Savings and Loans

Story by Rita Abiodun, Oxfam in Nigeria's Media and Communications Officer

After much reluctance fueled by skepticism, some members of Nyifu village, comprising 17 females and 8 Males in Gindin Dutse Central community in Donga LGA in Taraba state formed a Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA) named Ikifun.

Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) is a key component of a gender stand-alone initiative of PROSELL project and in most projects implemented by Oxfam in Nigeria through funding support from European Union.

VSLAs are self-managed community-based groups that provide their members access to basic financial services and respond directly to the unmet financial service needs of the remote and rural poor by providing a secure place to save, an opportunity to borrow in small amounts and on flexible terms as well as an opportunity to contribute to the development of social good in the community through a pooled resource.

Apart from the savings that members contribute, they also contribute a social fund to support members on needs basis, and on occasion where they have leftover funds from the social contribution, members share out and spend it at their disposal.

”Rather than lavish the fund on ourselves, we spotted a need – our broken down borehole. Since the only borehole in our village broke down, our women have been having a tough time fetching water. They wake up as early as 4:00am and walk to the stream to get water. Sometimes, they spend as much six hours just to fetch a few liters of water for our domestic use, “said Mr. Gabriel Agbu, the community head who is also a member of Ikifun VSLA group.

“Besides the loan which has helped members to boost their businesses and invest in their farms, it’s such an honour that we have been able to solve a big problem in our village. We have become the envy of our community.

Our next goal is to build a public toilet for our village from our social fund. This will go a long way in helping to minimize and hopefully eradicate the issue of open defecation which we still grapple with. We are grateful to Oxfam and its partners for opening our eyes to Village Savings and Loans Associations and most importantly for encouraging us to contribute to the social good of our community through pooled resources.” said Mr. Gabriel.

Most of the time, all it takes to transform a community is to build its resilience by strengthening its capacity to participate in income-generating activities and ultimately inspire change.