Life was everything but easy for Mola and his family, from kility village in Yilmana Densa district. He used to provide for his family of ten, using whatever he could manage to get, being a subsistence farmer.
“As a farmer, I used to produce teff and wheat through rain-fed agriculture. The produce I earned from farming was so meagre that it was hardly enough to feed my household. When I would encounter food deficiency, I used to take loans from local money lenders at high interest. There were times when I had to give part of my farmland to the rich on contract basis to get some money to purchase food for my family and fertiliser for my farmland,” he recalls.
Mola joined a saving group which was established by World Vision five years ago. After saving for a couple of months, he took a loan from his saving group to purchase fertiliser and pesticides. Through successive loans, he was able to improve his family’s livelihood. “The loans I took from my saving group have transformed my family. Before the introduction of saving, my family and I were living in an old, one-roomed, small hut that served as a bedroom, a kitchen, and a guest house. Using the loan, I was able to build a four-roomed house with an iron sheet cover. The has two bedrooms, one guest room, and a store,” Mola proudly says.
Mola was dependent on rain-fed agriculture for years. Upon taking a loan from his saving group, he started an irrigation business. He produces onions twice a year using irrigation. “The irrigation business turned around our lives for the better. I was able to earn close to 100,000 Birr (US$2,574) from the sale of onions. The income has solved my recurring problems. I was able to buy two milk cows for my family and now my children drink milk every day," he says.
Excited for what the future holds, Mola professes, "Now, I have rented farmland, prepared onion seeds and I am ready to plant more crops to get more harvest than before, during the upcoming rainy season. I thank World Vision for introducing saving groups in our area. It has created more opportunities for a better life.”
A savings group is member-owned and composed of a small number of people who save together in a safe, convenient, and flexible way. They use a simple, transparent method to accumulate and convert small amounts of cash into savings that can then be lent to members as credit. World Vision uses it as one of the best economic empowerment methodologies, capable of lifting the most vulnerable families and their children out of extreme poverty and building resilience to shocks and stresses.
So far, Yilmana Densa Area Programme has established and organised 150 saving groups that consist of 2,400 community members. All of the saving group members take loans and utilise them to tackle various economic challenges that they face.