Since December 2020, hiveonline and Self Help Africa Zambia, have worked together on a pilot project involving the implementation of hiveonline’s blockchain based digital savings platform, vsla.online, in communities in Southern Zambia. From an already existing savings group model, VSLA, hiveonline has provided a digital solution that improves sustainable microfinance and community based savings from building a sustainable financial ecosystem that eliminates the risk of cash and corruption.
From the hiveonline application, vsla.online, savings groups were enabled to build and share credit history that could demonstrate regular financial behaviour and personal and group liquidity without formal ID. The lack of personal identification has been one of the main obstacles affecting Zambians’ access to capital. The app is tolerant of low connectivity and designed for low data usage and low literacy, to accommodate the needs of the savings groups in Zambia. Throughout the pilot, hiveonline and Self Help Africa Zambia have worked together to attract savings groups and members and to keep up with training and analysis to improve the user experience of the app, vsla.online.
Today, the project involves 12 savings groups and 570 group members located in the areas of Namwala, Masabuka, and Monze in Southern Zambia. The savings groups have been performing transactions monthly, and are comfortable with the dynamics of the online savings solution which allows them to purchase group shares, take up loans and contribute to welfare funds. All transactions are recorded on the Stellar blockchain via the hiveonline platform that ensures functionality and easy deployment in areas with poor network conditions. With the help of SHA field managers on-site, the application has been successfully implemented and SHA has decided to extend the deployment to new savings groups in Zambia.
hiveonline and Self Help Africa are now progressing a full rollout following the success of the pilot project, starting July 2021, with the intention to reach more savings groups in related communities and areas. The project is expecting to take on 50 new groups, with expected members to reach 2,000 on hiveonline’s platform. The continuation and development of the project will seek to improve sustainable microfinance and community savings in Zambia.