Fa’izah lives in Kabe, a village in the Kollo region 45 km outside Niamey, Niger’s capital city. The village is 20km from the nearest paved road, but all the same there’s a mosque and a strong community. Life has changed a lot over the last 30 years.
Women are still legally and culturally marginalised, but thanks to the VSLA, poor women like Fa’izah are now able to gain more independence and more control over their finances, traditionally controlled by men.
“Family grain stocks, which are supplied in the rainy season, are managed by the head of the household, usually a man. Every day, he allocates a portion to each woman of the family. As stocks run out, women take turns to prepare meals using their left-over grains, before selling their small livestock. Large livestock usually belong to the men and are used as a last resort.
Following years of successive droughts, which tend to get longer (for 8 to 9 months of the year), CARE International is observing some changes in the traditional roles of the household. As grain stocks get more “specialized” with seasons, women take on increased responsibilities in feeding their family. The traditional belief that the man is the provider of the family is becoming obsolete, while women play a more and more important role in food security.” -Case study by CARE
Women want to expand their business
Being able to save even small amounts of money, meanwhile, has increased women’s ability to make decisions about their finances; Fa’izah is able to protect her family from economic shocks thanks to the ability to borrow and the community social fund, while the community has become familiar with women making financial decisions and having economic power. Fa’izah, and the women in her community make cosmetics and oils with insecticide properties, protecting from malaria, made from the nuts of a tree in the village. They want to be able to expand their business in new markets, to buy animals and land to develop their farming activities, but can’t get access to enough capital.
Although the VSLA has transformed their ability to save and their economic decision making power, their 28-strong group has a total of only 300 Euros, so they can’t scale individual businesses.
There are lenders like Capital Finance, a microfinance institution based in Niger’s capital city, Niamey, who want to lend money to entrepreneurs like Fa’izah to help their businesses grow. They know that these women are trustworthy and entrepreneurial, but sending cash means sending an armed guard, which is expensive, and prevents them lending to women like her.
hiveonline will bring Fa’izah the ability to borrow money from lenders using digital cash, so that she can buy a cow or some goats to grow her business, and her community’s wealth.
We’re partnering with CARE and Capital Finance, to build up formal reputation for the women, digitise cash and give Fa’izah access to credit. The digitisation of the VSLA process and the access to additional lending sources, will provide the boost she’s looking for. The future is looking brighter.
UPDATE: hiveonline stopped working on the CARE eArziki project in March 2020 after mutual agreement to end the partnership. While the savings group application was developed and tested, it did not go live and was not used by groups in Niger.