In Margibi County… Natural Resource Women Platform Launches Village Savings Initiative for Women

By: Jeremiah Sackie Cooper

Margibi, Liberia: In the heart of rural Liberia, a quiet revolution is brewing, one that promises to uplift and empower women in local communities. With the launch of the Village Savings Loan (VSLA) initiative by a dedicated community base and women-led organization, the Natural Resource Women Platform (NRWP), the landscape of economic opportunity is beginning to shift.

This initiative marks a crucial step towards financial independence and community development, particularly for women in regions where access to banking services remains limited.

Liberia, like many countries in the sub-Saharan region, struggles with economic challenges, exacerbated by limited access to financial services, especially in rural areas.

While microfinance initiatives have made strides in addressing this gap, there’s often a need for more localized and community-driven approaches. Recognizing this necessity, the NRWP took matters into their own hands, paving the way for a grassroots solution tailored to the specific needs of communities in rural Liberia.

Over 50 community women in the Salala Rubber Corporation concession area over the week benefited from first-hand knowledge of the basic principles and steps to easily save their money through the VSLA.

The beneficiaries, mostly women, also received materials including boxes, calculators, Passbooks, locks, tags, and weekly record books and cards to help make their savings fair and easy.

The Village Savings Loan initiative is not merely a financial program; it’s a catalyst for change, designed to foster economic resilience and self-sufficiency among women.

At its core lies the concept of collective savings and lending, where women pool their resources to create a fund from which members can borrow at reasonable interest rates depending on their laws.

This model not only promotes financial inclusion but also encourages a sense of solidarity and mutual support within the community.

Making a brief remark, the head of the secretariat of the Natural Resource Women Platform, Madam Veronica B. Gray said that the launch of the initiative represents a significant milestone in the journey towards inclusive development in Liberia.

She noted that it underscores the vital role that grassroots organizations and community-led initiatives play in addressing socio-economic challenges from the ground up.

However, Madam Gray at the same time noted that for women in rural Liberia to have the ability to adequately handle their money, its success will ultimately depend on continued support and collaboration from stakeholders at all levels, including government agencies, NGOs, and the private sector.

She also said that her organization is looking ahead to scaling up initiatives like the Village Savings Loan program to reach more communities across Liberia and beyond.

‘’By harnessing the collective power of women and fostering a culture of entrepreneurship and self-reliance, we can build a more equitable and prosperous future for all.

The seeds of change have been sown; now is the time to nurture and cultivate them for the benefit of generations to come’’, she added.

One of the key strengths of this initiative is its adaptability to local contexts. Operating at the village level, it circumvents many of the logistical barriers that hinder access to formal banking institutions.

Moreover, the program is designed to be participatory, with women actively involved in decision-making processes regarding loan disbursement and utilization. This ensures that the initiative remains responsive to the evolving needs of its members and fosters a sense of ownership among participants.

For their part, the benefited women lauded the NRWP for developing such a program, describing it as a solution to their banking problems.

The women said that the program would help them save money for their children’s education and help buttress the efforts of their husbands in the daily running of their homes.

“We are grateful to the Natural Resource Women Platform for bringing this program to us. We can now save our money and help send our children to school. We don’t have a bank here, and it is hard for us to take our money to Monrovia to put it in the bank because of the distance”, the women in one tone said.

The impact of the Village Savings Loan initiative extends far beyond individual beneficiaries.

Empowering women economically has the potential to catalyze broader socio-economic development within rural communities.

As women gain access to capital, they can invest in small-scale enterprises, agriculture, and education, laying the foundation for sustainable growth.

Furthermore, increased financial independence often translates into greater decision-making power for women within their households, leading to positive ripple effects in areas such as healthcare, education, and gender equality.

The Natural Resource Women Platform (NRWP) is an umbrella organization of community-based organizations and groups of women dependent on land and natural resources; women working in concession and industrial areas; and women engaged in self-employing entrepreneurial activities in both rural and urban slum communities.

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