How the bold women of a VSLA-group in Nyamasasa brought about change

Nyamasasa is a small village located 65 km from Goma on the shores of Lake Kivu. Its population lives mainly on agricultural products and fishing. Due to its remote location, access to manufactured goods was very limited to the population of Nyamasasa. To acquire products such as soap, fuel, salt and oil people had to travel 10 kilometers to larger neighboring towns like Mukwidja and Kalungu. Even the local products could not be sold in the village of Nyamasasa as there was no market. Women had to walk for long distances, holding their agricultural products on their backs, to sell them in the nearby towns.

Mrs. Anuarite Mapendo Barabara – married and mother of eight children – explains why the village lacked a market: ‘’It used to be really difficult to access manufactured products. No one could take the initiative in the village because of our poor access to credit.’’ This situation started to change after ZOA began to set up Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA’s) through its local partner Union pour l’Emancipation de la Femme Autochtone (UEFA).

Thanks to the credit given through the VSLA’s, the bold women of Nyamasasa created a market that is accessible to everyone. Anuarite Mapendo Barabara explains how the women managed to change their situation: ‘’Through the ARC-project, ZOA and UEFA started to support us in setting up VSLA’s. This approach changed us, we have acquired the culture of savings and credit.”

I personally started to take credit in our VSLA called “Wake up Nyamasasa’’ and went to buy manufactured products in other towns like Kalungu and Minova. I started selling the product in our own village.

The initiative of the 42-year old Anuarite Mapendo Barabara encouraged others to take out loans and start small businesses. The women of the village set up a market together.

Anuarite Mapendo Barabara is proud of they way the women collaborated: ‘’To avoid unfair competition, we divided among ourselves the articles and manufactured products that people need in our village. Other women decided to join us in selling agricultural products at our side as well and thus a small market was born in Nyamasasa.’’

The market brought about a positive change in the lives of many women. They no longer have to walk for miles to acquire the products they need, or sell the agricultural products they grew. Thanks to the VSLA-group, and the initiative of Mrs. Anuarite Mapendo Barabara.

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