Before the establishment of Savings Group (SG) in Bendu community in Jaiama Bongor, Bo District popular uniformed voice from community members have it that there was only one means of getting money—that had to do with loans taking from individuals that attracted very high interest way above 100 percent. So this scared a lot of people from borrowing money. Also, members’ eyes were not opened to save the meagre sum they were making from their farms and businesses. As such, there were wastages.
Business men and women and farmers were now face with many challenges in a crippling local economy. But with the establishment of Sorbeh Savings Group in 2012 (as advised by World Vision), the stage was set for communities to now form an organized group where members can save together and take loans from a pooled fund at any time.Savings groups like Sorbeh are simple, transparent, locally run systems that address the need for a safe, convenient means to save money and have ready access to small loans.
The Sobeh SG in Jaiama Bongor is empowering women children and their communities. Sorbeh, which is translated in English to mean sobriety, was established in 2012 in World Vision’s Jaiama Bongor Area Development Programme in Bo. Jaiama Bongor ADP is funded by World Vision United Kingdom (WVUK).
The Ebola virus disease hit Sierra Leone’s economy very badly—including those of Bendu. But Savings groups have been able to thrive amidst difficulties and challenges.
Sorbeh is among 688 Savings Groups in World Vision’s operational areas in Sierra Leone. Jaiama Bongor ADP accounts for 83 out of the total 688 SG’s. Members testify to using the proceeds from the 5 periodic shares of the SG, to cater for a lot of needs in their communities.
Hawa Josiah, Chair Lady, Sorbeh SG, states ‘’ This group has impacted us a lot in this community. Out of this SG, I have been able to build my house. Also, it is out of this that I pay my children’s school fees. Additionally, when my husband was hit by partial stroke, it is the loans I got from the SG that I have been using to care for his health needs.’’
Foday Senesie, Deputy Chair, Sorbeh says this about their SG: ‘’If only SG is replicated in other communities and women and men are willing to come on board, poverty will be minimized.’’
Talking about the impact of World Vision’s work in Jaiama Bongor ADP, Joseph Musa, Paramount Chief, Jaiama Bongor ADP, singled out SG as being one of the most interesting interventions by World Vision. ‘’…Savings groups are spreading like wild fire in my Chiefdom. Women and men use proceeds from their savings to cater for vulnerable children in communities, and this is very interesting,’’ he says.
World Vision promotes a culture of communities owning and sustaining every developmental strides so communities can uphold those good practices even when the organization shall have left.
Mohamed Jabbie is one of the money counters of Sorbeh. He has this to say about SG in his community in Bendu. ‘’We know one day World Vision will leave us. But that’s okay. They can leave. But we will never let go of SG in this community. In this group, we have been able to learn a lot of things about governance. We have also learned a lot about business management and can settle conflicts with ease.’’
Sorbeh is now a parent group to four other SG’s (three adults’ and one children’s SG) in Jaiama Bongor Chiefdom, all of whom have uniformed decision when it comes to contributing to the well-being of children.