Turning A Little Into A Life
3 December 2018
We take a lot for granted in Australia. One of those things is the ability to access credit and loans in order to generate income. In developing countries, people often face many barriers to accessing credit, which limits their ability to build or create new businesses.
Microcredit programs, like the Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) program we run with local partners in Tanzania, are educating individuals and their entire communities in entrepreneurial skills to create sustainable livelihoods.
TRIUMPHING OVER CIRCUMSTANCES
The death of a partner can be catastrophic in developing nations. When Lucy’s husband died, his family chased her and her 10 children away, stealing their land. The labouring work Lucy could get only paid enough for one meal a day for the family, because four of her children were sick and required expensive treatment, leaving few funds for food.
By joining The Salvation Army’s VLSA, Lucy was able to team up with another member to keep chickens and grow and sell cabbages. Her income now ensures proper nutrition and clothing
for the whole family, and she has been able to purchase a phone and send one of her sons to school. She sees more abundance to come, saying, “My hope for the future is to build a house, send my children to school all the way up to university, and to own a big business.”
SKILLS FOR A DIVERSIFIED INCOME STREAM
Bhoke, a mother of eight, used to travel 30 kilometres on foot overnight to get to where she sold her maize. Learning skills about business, entrepreneurship, agriculture and livestock-keeping at her VSLA, she took out loans to purchase a cow and a plough to cultivate maize,
sweet potato and cassava.
Now the VLSA’s chairperson, Bhoke leads its operations and ensures its sustainability. She also intends to diversify her business, saying, “I want to purchase more animals, cultivate more produce and also own a clothes shop.”
This VSLA program, along with many of our other education and priority sponsorship programs around the world, is both successful and sustainable. The small businesses that
these programs finance improve the nutrition, health, housing and education of communities, delivering not just immediate change, but a radically different future.