It is common knowledge that when economic freedom exists, human dignity flourishes; and when people are deprived of economic freedom, their choices are restricted. This was the situation of Yakubu, a 25-year-old young man who has lived in Yawungu, a community served by World Vision's Gushegu Area Programme for the past 21 years.
Yakubu is a senior high school graduate, married and blessed with three children. He resorted to living in the village after his secondary school education to engage in subsistent farming, since his family could not afford to help him attain higher-level education. In the small community of Yawungu, most senior high school graduates have no livelihood opportunities aside from small-scale farming.
He recalls the sleepless nights he spent thinking about how to acquire funds for his farming business and cater to the basic needs of his family. “Just imagine the insults, heckling, refusal and disgrace I felt just to borrow money in this community”, narrates Yakubu. “Sometimes, after having to tell a total stranger all of my problems, they would tell me how they wish they could help but they, unfortunately, are not in a position to help even after listening to all my problems. This used to be so embarrassing for me”. He adds that securing a loan in the community was difficult and came with very strict terms and conditions. He further shares how some creditors could go to the houses of their debtors to heckle them and distress them in their business. He remembers a time when he was so embarrassed when his inability to pay on time led to harassment and heckling by his borrower. This gave him no peace of mind and freedom over his financial choices.
Yakubu then recalls how his life took a positive turn due to his participation in Savings for Transformation (S4T) activities organised by World Vision. After series of sensitisations on S4T, he joined a group. He recounts: “Initially, the message seemed somewhat alluring for most of us and we developed an interest. Training and orientations on the S4T processes were offered to us. We were taught how to come together and save monies. After the training, we formed a group known as Tisongtaba (meaning ‘let’s support each other). We were so determined to work hard to have money to save in our group every week; this motivated each member to endeavour to acquire an extra skill which will enable us to earn income and save some monies which are very alien to our community. We had never known the benefits of saving in a group”.
“Ever since I joined the Tisongtaba S4T group in Yawungu in May 2020, borrowing has been dignifying for me. I no longer have to go and tell people all my problems before I can access a loan. When I take a loan from our group, no one asks me what I am going to use the loan for. In addition, the terms of payment are so flexible that it is impossible to default on payment”, Yakubu shares.
Yakubu has been able to save over GHS 500 ($86), which has made him eligible to borrow decent amounts of money from his group. This has enabled him to engage in other income-generating activities to support the family. He hopes to give his children a very good education with this financial advantage he has in the S4T.
Today, Yakubu is extremely happy to list the multiple changes that have occurred in his life due to his inclusion in S4T. “I can now borrow to invest in my farmland and pay my children’s fees and healthcare. I do not have to bother about going to spill my secrets to a stranger anymore”, he shares. Yakubu is one out of the many young parents who are participating in S4T activities and are recounting the numerous benefits it has brought them.
Yawungu community has six S4T groups with a total of 145 members, with 420 children being supported. The groups have been able to save GHS 22,500 (US$3,900) so far. Ultimately, S4T has led to borrowing with dignity for Yakubu and many others in the community.