Village Saving and Loans (VSLA) schemes are an essential tool in delivering on the ambitions of the Nestle Cocoa Plan: Better Farming, Better Lives, Better Cocoa. The program empowers farmers and communities to better manage their finances, while encouraging greater diversity and inclusion. When combined with Gender Action Learning System (GALS), VSLAs can advance gender empowerment through financial inclusion and literacy.

Daniel Nyarko, Nestlé Cocoa Plan Manager said ‘GALS uses tools such as the Gender Balance tree, which enables households to recognize gender injustice as an obstacle to their shared vision for a better life. GALS helps households to recognize each other as allies in joint efforts’. He further noted that women particularly are empowered to articulate issues, discuss them constructively and make explicit, shared decisions.

Nestlé has established and monitored a total of 82 VSLA’s with women making up 1276(54%) of a total membership of 2363. 19 of these groups integrate GALS training benefitting a total of 224 women.

So far, VSLA and GALS have proven to be an efficient methodology to support household financial capacity building, the development of household business/action plans, and gender empowerment.

The methodology has built the confidence and capacity of women to be positioned to take important decisions in their lives.

Ten of the VSLAs integrate a child protection component, known locally as ‘VSLA-CHILD’, and aims at prioritizing child issues in individual household planning. These groups formed have two ‘Champions’ supported by a facilitator to train their group members on tools such as a gender balance tree, household vision and stakeholder mapping.

After completion of the training, members develop their own Household Development Plan with specific attention to child well-being, monitored by a facilitator during the first 6 months.

Ongoing monitoring to ensure their success. VSLA offers a much easier and cost-effective avenue for farmers to obtain loans. Women have had easy access to loans from VSLA’s to expand additional businesses thereby contributing to household incomes.

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