In the cocoa-growing communities of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, managing the money you earn can be difficult. Many villages are entirely cut off from access to basic financial services like banks or building societies. This means that families are unable to easily manage their finances.
The Nestlé Cocoa Plan supports Village Savings and Loans (VSLA) schemes that enable farmers and their wider communities to invest even small amounts and to earn interest on their incomes. It also offers a loan fund from which members can borrow to fund small business opportunities.
Currently, 8 000 farmers within the Nestlé Cocoa Plan are participating in the schemes. The VSLAs are divided into small groups of 15-25 people in the local community who save together. All transactions are carried out in front of all the other members of the Association to ensure transparency and accountability.
Along with 40 other women from the Lokosso village, Lydia Siaka joined her local VSLA when it was set up five months ago. They meet every Monday morning at 8 a.m. and she says there is a great sense of solidarity and teamwork in the meetings. The VSLA has helped local women in their hour of need, she explains. “If there is a death in the family, or a birth or a big event like a baptism, then we visit the family with a cash donation. That brings the family happiness and peace of mind.”
We have committed to setting up a further 100 VSLA groups, which are expected to benefit at least 2 000 women.