Women Saving and Credit Group
The Women’s Saving and Credit Group is one of the project components that is considered as a successful program and has expanded its impact to the entire commune of Tu Ne. The target group is women, especially poor women. The program aims at poverty alleviation as well as women’s status improvement both at the home sphere and in the public, especially in an area like Tan Lac where men are more respected than women.The component started in 2005 and up to 31st May 2009, Tu Ne had 7 groups established in 6 villages, being Buc, Ba, Chua, Bin, Cac and Cu.CECAD helps Tu Ne’s Women’ Union Branches in villages mobilize women to join the group and at the same time they contribute money to the group’s fund. CECAD assists them in book keeping, organizing the group’s activities as well as fund management. CECAD supports money to a group if it is run effectively and if the demand of loan is greater than the current fund in the group. The policy on how the interest is calculated is decided by each group and this is clearly stipulated in the group’s regulations. Normally, the interest rate is 1%, and it is shared in the following way:
- 0.5% for those who contribute the principal
- 0.3% for members of the Board of Management of the group
- 0.2% for the Village Community Development Group
Up to 31st May 2009, Tu Ne had a total number of 327 women participating in their group at the village level. Their savings was 79,118,000VND and the amount of money supported by the project was 35,400,000VND. The Groups have managed their money and given loans to their 502 members. The loans provided women, especially the poor the opportunity to invest in animal husbandry to improve their household economy. Interviews with members of 7 groups show that many women have savings, which without the support from the Women’s Saving and Credit Group it would have been difficult, if not possible for them to have. Although the loans are still small and have not yet met their demands, they helped group members partly improve their household economy, since the interest is low and the procedure is simple and convenient for them. For example, members of the group in Ba village said their incomes increased from 10% to 15%. In other groups, those who had good plans as how to spend the loans their incomes increased from 20% to 30% compared with those before they joined the group.Women’s Saving and Credit Groups are facing a number of difficulties, however. These include (1) some did not invest the loan in animal husbandry, but for other purposes; (2) group members did not pay the principal and interest in time; (3) group members’ fixed amount of money contributed to the group has decreased; and (4) the group’s capital is not high therefore the loans given to group members are limited, normally not exceeding 1.5 million VND. Furthermore, groups do not collaborate with each other and there is not a forum for them exchange experiences as well as learn from each other.Up to now, the program is highly appreciated by the Tan Lac district and Tu Ne commune’s Women Union in that it has promoted gender equality, helping local families realize women’s capability as well as their roles in the development of household economy. Furthermore, the program has showed its positive, stable and sustainable impact through its concrete number of members in the seven groups as well as the period of time the groups have been operated.
In order to overcome the difficulties, the Board of Management of the project and of each group have set out goals for the coming year and the head of each village and the Commune Community Development Committee will play an important role in requesting households to pay back the loan in time so that more poor households in the community can benefit from the project. Importantly, all groups have seen the opportunity to collaborate together to become a larger credit organization, which could give loans to all group members in different villages of the commune. In this way, group members will not suffer from a lack of funds or small loans.