From A Remote Village, Manisah Activates Women To Save

18 Feb 2020

Manisah when holding the cocoa she planted from cocoa plantation

Bersinar” – that is what Manisah (37) calls the VSLA Group located in Lapaopao Village, Wolo Sub District, Kolaka District, Southeast Sulawesi. Manisah hopes that this VSLA Group will continue to develop and become the ‘sinar’ (light) for the village community who on average work as cocoa farmers. 

“In Lapaopao Village, usually after harvest, the village community will immediately spend all the money they get from selling their harvest produce to buy goods. Sometimes, we forget that to have savings is very important for the future,” said Manisah opening her story.

Manisah, her three children and her husband live in the village located far on the hill which can only be accessed by using a motorbike and then walk as far as 5 kilometers from the main street. Bank as a facility to have savings is located relatively far from their house.

“In the past, when we wanted to open a savings account, we had to go down. The nearest bank is located around 7 kilometers from here. Because of the long-distance and we were busy working in the cocoa plantation, the desire to save was finally gone,” continued the woman who becomes the Chair of Bersinar VSLA Group.

It is true that Bersinar VSLA Group has been going on for 9 months, but almost all women whose majority is the wives of cocoa farmers are interested in joining VSLA. With the value of each share of Rp 10,000,_, it is not difficult for the village community to take part in the VSLA activities.

Manisah herself is indeed highly motivated to save in the VSLA. From the first cycle which goes on for six months, this woman has obtained more than Rp 1 million. Manisah is happy with the result that she has gained since her main motivation to save is to finance the education of her first son who is currently in the 2nd year of Senior High School.

“I think there are a lot of benefits from this VSLA, especially it encourages us to save and to borrow as well. In the past when there was an immediate need, such as to pay for the children’s school uniforms and examination fees, we always have trouble. But now, we can borrow from VSLA,” Manisah continued.

Besides the shares, members of VSLA also have the obligation to pay for the social fund which has already been mutually agreed, namely Rp 2,000,-. If there is any member who is not present or who arrives late, they will get a fine of Rp 2,000,-. The interesting thing is that although the village is located in a remote area, there is not any member who arrives late at the meeting or who is late to pay.

Members of Bersinar VSLA Group can also borrow money in the maximum amount of two times the number of their shares. The loan interest is also relatively low, namely 2% only. Meanwhile, they can repay the loan within a period of three months. At the end of the cycle, the total amount of the interest will be equally shared with each member who has got the share in VSLA.

“There are a lot of members who also borrow money from VSLA, including me. I once borrowed money in the amount of Rp 1,700,000,- for the additional business capital to buy the goods for my stall,” said Manisah happily while showing the more complete goods available in her stall which is attached to the living room of her house.

Not only for the business capital, but a lot of farmers can also borrow money to buy fertilizers and pesticides for their cocoa plantations without having to wait for the arrival of the harvest time. Bersinar VSLA Group has given new perspectives about saving to women like Manisah.

“Compared to the regular social gathering, I prefer to encourage housewives in the village to join the VSLA Group because we can borrow and save. If it is in the regular social gathering, only one person can get the benefit, and that can happen if the person is willing to pay in the following month,“ Manisah ended in laughter.


Written by: Rena Tanjung, Communications Officer Wahana Visi Indonesia


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