Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

The money Lagbemba was able to save with his VSLA (Village Savings & Lending Association) group has made a big difference in his quality of life, helped him start a small business, and inspired others.

While most VSLAs are made up of women in rural communities, town-dweller Lagbemba was grateful to have a chance to join one. He has a job, but his earnings were taken up by feeding and clothing his family, and he just couldn’t swing the equivalent of two months’ pay for the bricks & workers he needed to build a traditional wall around his home.

“For years, my house didn’t have a fence. Everything that happened in my yard could be seen from afar. People took shortcuts through my property until they created a public path. We could never keep it swept free of their trash. And if we were away for more than a day or so, things left outside went missing.”

He shared his concerns with an “indigenous animator” from the program who advised him to join a VSLA. Once Lagbemba understood the workings of these tried-and-true groups, he joined immediately. VSLAs generally meet weekly, require a minimum amount of money to be saved, and can make small loans to members as well as be a source of companionship and advice.

“At the first 12-month payout, I ended up with twice what I needed to build the wall, without even feeling the weight of what I was taking out of my salary. I used a little of the remaining half to buy a sheep to raise, and the rest went to look after my family.

“Now that we have privacy and a perimeter, no one can cut through our courtyard, we feel safer, and theft has been reduced. And I sold that sheep for more than what it cost to build the wall, so I’ve continued with my small breeding business. I’ll keep saving now that I’ve seen what can come of it.”

Lagbemba’s colleagues have all inquired how he made this happen, and he was happy to share what he’d learned. He’s grateful for the way in which local partner Showing Everyone Love has raised people’s awareness in a culture unaccustomed to putting away money for the future.

West Africa Program
Led by World Renew and Local Partner Showing Everyone Love (SEL)

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