Rising Fountains Development Programme (RFDP) is targeting to reach 3,000 beneficiaries of the Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) in the North-Western Province of Zambia with support from RUFEP.

RFDP has taken the challenge to promote Savings Groups in North-Western as the province has the lowest number of Community Based Financial Institutions (CBFIs) or Savings Groups in Zambia, due to the limited number of Savings Group Promoters.

According to SaveNet data, North-Western had less than 10,000 Savings Group members by 2019 as compared to other provinces in Zambia.

Supported by RUFEP under the Agency and Mobile Banking Window of the Innovation and Outreach Facility (IOF), RFDP is implementing a project called Sustainable Financial Inclusion and Linkages Project in North-Western Province aimed to form and link VSLAs to Madison Finance.

Speaking when a RUFEP Team went on a monitoring field visit in North-Western Province and to meet the VSLAs groups formed, Project Manager, Maxwell Kakwisa thanked RUFEP for supporting RFDP to undertake the Sustainable Financial Inclusion and Linkages project in North-Western Province.

Mr. Kakwisa said RFDP partnered with Madison Finance to link 125 VSLAs to the Financial Service Provider by the end of the Project.

“We are working in Solwezi, Kalumbila and Mushindamo targeting to reach 3000 beneficiaries by encouraging them to form savings groups to be linked to Madison Finance. We make sure all individual members have mobile money accounts so that they are also financially linked as individuals”, he said.

RUFEP Programme Coordinator Michael Mbulo said the field visits were conducted to monitor progress by implementing partners and to physically assess progress on the ground.

Mr. Mbulo said the partnership with was not new as RUFEP had supported a previous project by the implementing partner in Lundazi, Eastern Province under the Savings Group Linkages Window One.

He said RUFEP was hopeful that Rising Fountains Development Programme would meet the set targets before the end of the project by April 2022.

The team later met with Savings Groups under Chief Mumena’s area in Kalumbila district who gathered at the chief’s palace to attend a training on financial inclusion and linkages organized by Rising Fountain Development Program.

Mr. Kakumba Shenende is a smallholder farmer in Chief Mumena’s area in Kalumbila district of Northwestern Province and a member Altar Savings Group.As beneficiary, Mr. Shenende disclosed that Savings Groups have helped smallholder farmers like him not to be dependent on the Farmers Input Supply Programme (FISP) by the government.

“I grow various crops and keep livestock. I’m productive throughout the year. Savings groups have helped me to have access to finances all the time for my farming inputs other than just depending on government programs like FISP. The fact is that FISP inputs cannot fully sustain your farming but the money from savings groups is able to buy extra inputs to supplement FISP”, he narrated.