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L3R 8G6

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A changed community

Women celebrate the businesses they’ve cultivated in Burkina Faso, thanks to a CCFC-initiated savings-and-loans program

By Patrice Zongo
CCFC communications manager, Burkina Faso

KOUGRI, Burkina Faso — Hope is palpable as the community of Kougri, Burkina Faso prepares to celebrate graduation from Christian Children’s Fund of Canada (CCFC) support.

Community members, especially the women, are seeing opportunities for growth. Case-in-point, after being a member of one of the 60 local Village Savings and Loans (VSL) groups, Rabioutou Kaboré is now working on her own vegetable gardening project. “I have used the money I saved to buy a small motor pump [for] watering. The motor pump cost $234, of which $138 came from my savings in the VSL group. The rest of the money came from the sale of the peanuts I grew last year,” said the 42-year-old who is cultivating onions in the 2,000-sq.-ft. portion of a 2.5-acre garden owned by five women.

There’s a lot of excitement about the VSL, whereby community members organize and save money according to their financial availability, creating group savings that are loaned within the group. “Thanks to this initiative, we easily access credit,” says Zalissa Ouédraogo (pictured), another woman who owns a piece of the garden. “This helped us finance our garden without external financial support. VSL is very helpful.” Several women in Kougri have used their money to improve small businesses such as restaurant management, hairdressing and more.

Beyond providing access to credit, the VSL gives women opportunities to collaborate, socialize and support their neighbours.

Two years after the VSL was launched in Kougri, the community has reason to be proud. Approximately 1,200 women have saved the equivalent of approximately $71,112. Is there a better way to prepare community members for graduation?