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20,000 Women Benefit From Micro Loans
By Derrick G. Menkarzon,LINA
MONROVIA, July 23 (LINA) –The United States Agency for International Development Food and Enterprise Development (USAID FED) has disclosed that over 20,000 Liberian women benefited from loans through the Village Loan and Savings Association (VSLA) over the four years of operation of the entity.
The VLSA is a micro- finance supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Liberia Feed the Future initiative in which individual farmers pool their financial resources into one account. Members take out loans from the account, which is payable in three months, with 10 percent interest. Proceeds from the interest
earned are distributed to members after each cycle based on the shares they own.
According to a USAID FED Success Story, a copy of which is in the possession of LINA, the Food and Enterprise Development project which is supported by the American Government’s Feed The Future initiative, is their own way of identifying with farmers to improve their livelihood.
The project has also provided training in agribusiness management and leadership for local farmers and operates four food value chains including rice, cassava, vegetable and goat raising.
The report stated that VLSA members received loans quarterly, with lowest interest rates.
One of the beneficiaries, Victoria Nipoe, explains that she has raised US$11,000 in two years with a saving of US$890.
Victoria stated that she invested US$500 of that amount to purchase a small cassava plot, which she harvested and sold the tubers on the local market for US$1,300, adding, “That money enabled me to pay my children’s school tuition.
At the same time, another beneficiary, Alice Tuah a farmer, says she has reaped immense benefits from joining VLSA.
As in Victoria’s case, Alice said the VLSA micro loan exercise has also enabled her to pay her children’s school fees.
Alice noted that farming was very difficult as she had to not only concentrate on feeding but also ensuring the sustenance of her business to improve the livelihood of the family..
She lauded USAID for building their capacity, noting, “We can now assist our partners, rather than solely depend on them for 100 percent support.”