Men and youth have been challenged not to remain behind by joining Savings Groups to improve their livelihoods and to reduce household poverty.
Largely dominated by women by about 75%, Savings Groups are proving to be a sustainable means for empowering rural communities and households to reduce poverty.
While women have taken the lead in encouraging men and youth to join Savings Groups, a few men and youth that have joined have become advocates of change for men and youth to join Savings Groups.
On the 16th June, 2020, RUFEP visited Savings Groups supported by Zambia Rainbow Development Foundation (ZRDF) under the Community Based Financial Institutions Linkages (CBFIs) Window of RUFEP’s Innovation and Outreach Facility (IOF) Matching grant.
With a membership of 24 women and one man, Chilope Savings and Internal Lending Community (SILC) Group in Chilope Village, Fiwila, Chief Shaibila has taken the initiative of using drama to persuade men and youth to join Savings Groups.
Using drama performance, women act on roles of men as heads of households to confront their attitudes towards Savings Groups and to showcase benefits of joining SILC Groups.
Benefits cited by women for belonging to a Savings Group in a rural community includes access to finances throughout the year, social fund for any emergency, increased agricultural productivity and household incomes, improved nutrition and livelihoods which ultimately reduces poverty at household level.
Mrs. Vincensia Muntanga is a member of the Chilope SILC Group. Mrs. Muntanga said belonging to a SILC Group guarantees access to finances throughout the year adding that men that have joined have seen the benefits for themselves.
Mrs. Charity Mukosha is the Chairlady for Chilope SILC Group. Mrs. Mukosha said she has been able to buy agricultural inputs such as seeds and fertilizer as a result of access to finances from the Savings Group.
“My husband supports me to save. Benefits are many for belonging to Savings Groups. I’m able to buy farming inputs. Recently I bought two ox-drawn ploughs. Our nutrition and eating habits have improved. We buy cooking oil and drink tea like people in towns”, Mrs. Mukosha said.
Mrs. Maureen Mayuni, a smallholder farmer in Chikupili, area, Luano District, is a member of Chikawama SILC Group. Mrs. Mayuni has been saving in the SILC Groups since 2018.
With access to loans from the group, she was able to diversify her seasonal income from farming to other businesses which have continued to guarantee a steady income throughout the year.
From the share-out in 2019, Mrs. Mayuni bought iron sheets for her house, agricultural inputs and a cow. She has also been able to support her school going children using income from the Savings Group.
Butemwe SILC Group (Top photo) consists of 25 members, all women in Mukusulo area, Chief Shaibila in Luano District. Mrs. Florence Chisenga, a smallholder farmer has been saving with Butemwe SILC Group for the past three years.
Speaking during the field visit, Mrs. Chisenga disclosed that from the savings, she has been able to borrow and pay back loans from the group, buy farming inputs and increased her agricultural productivity.
A number of young women that joined Butemwe SILC Group were influenced by their mothers and friends when they saw the benefits of belonging to a Saving Group in their homes.
Aliness Musonda testified that she was persuaded by her mother to join Butemwe SILC Group when she saw the benefits her mother derived from the group.
“My mother gave me seed capital to start saving. I joined Butemwe SILC Group in 2019 and started saving. Since then my livelihood has transformed. I’m grateful to ZRDF and RUFEP for supporting Savings Groups in our area”, she said.
A few men and youth that have joined Savings Groups were happy to testify of the benefits of belonging to Savings Groups and the transformation that comes with it in terms of improved livelihoods.
Mr. Anold Ntaimu is a member of Chikawana SILC Group in Chikupili, Luano District. Mr. Ntaimu said before joining the Savings Group, he used to spend his money carelessly.
“Ever since I joined Chikawana SILC Group, I have learnt how to save money, how to spend money wisely and how to grow my money through business”, Mr. Ntaimu testified while challenging men to join the Savings Groups.
Mr. Felix Mwiinga is a smallholder farmer in Chikupili area and is a member of Scheme One SILC Group. Mr. Mwiinga said before joining the Savings Group, he used to use a bucket to water his garden.
“My wife persuaded me to join Scheme One SILC Group where she was a member and I started saving. With my first loan, I managed to buy a water pump, garden seeds and chemicals. My productivity has now increased”, he disclosed.
Mr. Mwiinga urged men who are not in SILC Groups to join and start saving to improve their livelihoods and to increase their productivity.