VSLAs are powerful tool for economic empowerment-MP Opolot

SERERE, February 28, 2024 – The Member of Parliament for Pingire County in Serere district, Fred Opolot has launched a scheme aimed at supporting Village Savings and Loans Associations [VSLAs] with seed capital.

The scheme implemented under Fred Opolot Foundation aims at enhancing the lending capacity of the VSLAs and encouraging a culture of saving among locals.

Figures obtained recently by this reporter from the office of the legislator indicated that so far 28 VSLAs have received a financial support of Shs 1 million each out of the targeted 41.

They include Mugarama B VSLA, Akuoro VSLA, Opunoi VSLA, Olumot VSLA, Odapakol VSLA, Ogata VSLA, Ojera VSLA, Ongia VSLA and Aswii VSLA among others.

These VSLAs are self-managed groups of between 10 and 40 individual members from within a same village who meet regularly to save their money in a safe space, access small loans and obtain emergency insurance.

For decades, VSLAs have continued to serve as an effective vehicle for economic justice and long-term resilience.

While speaking to the beneficiaries of Kidetok Town Council over the weekend, Opolot said that VSLAs not only increase resilience, but also decrease challenges around income, food, and healthcare.

He described the VSLA concept as a powerful tool for improving the conditions of impoverished households.

“VSLAs are the only powerful tool for addressing the challenges of persistent poverty faced by 39 percent of Uganda’s population still relying on subsistence agriculture,” said Opolot.

According to Opolot, the development Uganda experienced in the rural areas in the late 1990s depended on savings from residents as this played a significant role in poverty eradication.

“There is no considerable domestic development that can be achieved without saving,” he said, adding that there is no small amount of money when saved.

He said Government has provided a conducive environment for VSLAs, cooperatives and other financial institutions to thrive.

James Osapa, Chairperson Aswii VSLA in Labor Sub-county said the financial support from the MP will help members to uplift their livelihoods.

“The money, Honourable Opolot has donated to us will increase our capital and help us to purchase more income-generating properties like tents and chairs for hire.”

Sarah Adongo, one of the beneficiaries from Kidetok Town Council, said: “The donation from the MP “will enable me to get a small loan to start up a business, given that accessing loans from big institutions is prohibitively expensive for the poor.”

However, Charles Aiba, a beneficiary from Pingire Sub-county was concerned that the growth of VSLAs in the area is being affected because some members do not want to pay back the loans given to them.

Meanwhile, John Richard Emanio rural development specialist stated that the beneficiaries were equipped with financial literacy, business and life skills before they were given seed capital by MP Opolot.

“With this knowledge, the beneficiaries will be able to sustain their groups by saving and borrowing from pooled savings and start income generating activities,” he said.

He therefore urged leaders to join hands and work together to address community challenges, especially those related to women and children to improve livelihoods.

Emanio recognised the substantial contribution of the VSLAs to the economic empowerment within communities.


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