Saving Succès-fully: How VSLAs are Strengthening Women’s Economic Cooperation

The Succès Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) group was formed in 2019 in the village of Aboudé, Côte d’Ivoire. Every Sunday, forty women meet in the BECIDA cooperative director’s garden to pool their savings and take out loans. During these meetings, they share personal experiences and offer each other advice and support.

Genevieve has been the president of Succès since the beginning. A 53-year-old farmer from the Aboudé-Kouassikro village, she is a mother of five children and a grandmother of ten. For the past six years, she has been managing a small store where she sells shoes and clothes. Every Friday, she sells her products at the local market.

Genevieve’s favourite thing about being part of the VSLA is that she can use her savings for her own projects. After last year’s share-out ceremony, where every woman receives their share of the money that the group had saved, Genevieve used her share to expand her business and keep her children and grandchildren in school.

The women involved in Succès have also launched an attiéké shop. Attiéké is a popular dish similar to couscous made from fermented cassava. The women sell attiéké made from cassava grown on their own farms, and all the profits are saved and shared among the women at the end of the year.

Attiéké Preparation

Philomene is a cocoa farmer who has been working with the BECIDA cooperative for five years. She owns two hectares of land where she produces cocoa, rice, cassava, potatoes, and pepper. She is the secretary of the Succès VSLA and oversees the completion of the group’s savings book.

The training and support provided through the VSLA group has helped Philomene to save enough money to support the education of her three children, two of whom are currently studying in Abidjan. The group’s advice on household management, business development, and methods to support her children, have been instrumental in ensuring the well-being of her whole family.

To become more financially independent, Philomene now runs a small fish shop from her house. Thanks to the savings she made with the group, Philomene has been able to grow her business. Now her dream is to save enough money to open a beauty and body care store.

Genevieve and Philomene

The group has also inspired the creation of a second similar group of thirty women in the same village and of a third group in the neighbouring village of Mandekè. In both cases, the women of Succès provided vital advice and support to the women of these new VSLAs.

Philomene says: “Women must be proud to be women, they should strive to be self-reliant, to have their own money, and not to depend on anyone else.”

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