Case Studies

Improving  Food Security and Education in Tanzania through VSLA 

Mrs. Elikao Lyamuya from Mshiri village

Elikao Lyamuya is a farmer from Mshiri village, and mother of a family of eight children. She has been a member of a VSLA group since 2006. According to her, VSLA has written a history that will never be forgotten. Before joining a VSLA, her income was so low that she could not send four of her eight children to school. The family could not afford three meals a day which required that her husband provide everything, including church offerings.

 She took a loan  from her VSLA and received training on how to increase income through poultry, poultry feed preparation, pig keeping and use of improved agricultural practices.  After the training, she started a poultry project with two improved cocks which she cross-bred with 10 local chickens. When she reached 400 cross-bred chickens, she sold some of them for TSH 400,000 (TSH = Tanzanian shilling). She is assured of getting at least two trays of eggs every week and sells them for TSH 3,600 each. She also started a tree nursery, and sells and average of 900 tree seedlings per year at TSH 150, totaling TSH 135,000. In four years of project activity, she earned TSH 540,000 from the sales of her tree seedlings.

 Her dream did not end there. She embarked on another project with a milling machine and in 2009 managed to start a mini- shop. She can now easily get loans from her VSLA and makes weekly loan repayment from the earnings of her enterprises.

After joining VSLA, her income is now stable and she is able to provide a  balanced diet for her family, support her children’s education and purchase other basic needs. This success has completely changed her attitude towards her children’s education:

My girls were not doing well in schools, I wished that they failed in their final exams so that they don’t continue with secondary school education, as I had no means to pay their school fees, but now  I push them to work very hard as I am now able to pay their school fees.

Elikao Lyamuya is grateful for VSLA which allows her to take care of small family expenses, while her husband covers other expenses, such as house renovation. Respect for her by her family and by the community at large has increased. Community attitudes towards women and children have changed as women begin contributing to the household income, accompanied by women’s increased self-confidence and self-esteem.


VSLA Supports Female-Headed Households in Tanzania


Vicky E. Mkonyi from Arisi village in Tanzania is among many farmers in the village who have benefited significantly from their VSLAs.  According to her, “Before VSLA, it was impossible for a person like me to access loans from commercial banks.”

At the time, she and her husband were not on good terms, so she left with two of her children and moved to a smaller house to start new life on her own. At the new place, she decided to take a $240 loan from her VSLA to build a small barn and buy two pigs at $150. She kept the pigs for four months, when one of them gave birth to 10 piglets.

Her dream of running a pig farm grew and she decided to expand her businesses. Vicky took another loan to start up a small business selling fruits. She was able to pay back her loan, buy food for the family, and pay school fees for her two children. The VSLA loans have

enabled her, as the sole bread winner, to sustain herself and her family. She can now afford to send her two children to school, but also buy nutritious foods for a balanced diet and meet the basic needs for her family.

Because VSLAs encourage its members to think creatively, she branched out further and started a poultry business with 17 chickens and a couple of chicks, in addition to her pig farming and vegetable and fruit sales.

She says, “Now I can look back and know I will survive this year. I am sure I can get food for my two children, send them to school, and buy what they need to acquire a standard education.”


VSLA Loans Promote Agricultural Development in Sierra Leone

Hawa John in her swamp rice farm

Hawa John is a poor farmer in Taninehun village in Peje Bongre chiefdom in Kailahun district. Being a smallholder farmer in Sierra Leone is particularly challenging because crop yields are low, post-harvest losses are high and mechanization, fertilizers and pesticides are almost non-existent. Often the old harvest does not provide enough until the new harvest, resulting in a several month-long “hungry season”. To improve her farming techniques and increase production, Hawa joined the CRS-supervised farmer field school, where she learned various farming skills and later graduated at the end of the farming season. After graduation, though willing to adopt her newly learned techniques in rice production, she did not have seed rice and also could not afford the high cost in the market.

When CRS introduced a savings and loan project to her community, she joined the group as a way to apply her newly learned FFS technologies. After three months of savings, Hawa decided to take a loan. At the start of the planting season, she summoned the elders in the community and requested a piece of land, which was granted with support of her savings and loan group members. She nursed and planted the seeds in the rains using the FFS techniques and is awaiting a good harvest.

When asked what she will do with her harvest, her first response was an expression of gratitude for the introduction of the savings and loan methodology in the community. “If the savings and loan group in Taninehun had not been established, it would have been impossible for me to adopt what I learned,” she pointed out excitingly, proudly pointing at her farm. And besides, I will have my planting stock for the rest of my life.”

For Hawa John an increase in rice production will mean that she can improve her food security through increasing food availability and providing more food for her family, both this year and with hope for years to come.


VSLA Loans Help Returning Refugees Start New Businesses in Sierra Leone

Mabinty and her grandson

In 2002, the then-president of the Republic of Sierra Leone announced that the rebel war had ended. This was welcome news for all Sierra Leoneans, but also ushered in a recovery and resettlement phase of a nation shattered by the 10-year civil war. In 2002, internally displaced people and refugees began returning to their places of origin with virtually nothing. Food and non-food items provided by the international community and the government for the returnees lasted for only three months. During this resettlement, Mabinty Alpha was repatriated to her village of Futa, in Yawei chiefdom, Kailahun District.

Like most returnees, Mabinty faced violent shocks:  her husband passed away while she was away and her daughter and son-in-law were killed, leaving a baby boy, Abu. Alone with Abu, she had to start a new life. Post-war survival was not easy for the widow. She farmed and received handouts from various NGOs, but still could not make ends meet for herself and Abu.  Her life completely turnaround when CRS partners, Caritas-Kenema, introduced the SILC methodology to the village.

As a member of the Vaama SILC, Mabinty took out a loan for petty trading in banana, palm oil, rice, and groundnuts in her village. With her newly found business, she was able make her loan payments on time and still continue her petty trading. “I always wondered how I could get my grandchild to school until the SILC was introduced to our village,” she told the field agent during their share-out ceremony. “Besides paying his school fees, I can provide enough food us from the profit I make from my trading,” she said happily, hugging her grandchild.


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