Contributed by Phomolo Makhetha
March 26, 2015
Formed in May of 2014, the Lemohang Basotho savings group in Lesotho is proving that there is power in community action. The group uses CRS’ Savings and Internal Lending Communities (SILC) approach.
As one SILC member stated, “Before SILC, when I needed money in an emergency, I would go door to door to borrow money from a neighbor, though they may not have anything. Otherwise, I would have to sell some of my goats or sheep. With SILC, I don’t have to do that.”
Members view their growing social cohesion as one of their greatest achievements since forming their group. “The community is much closer now than before,” a SILC member reported. “It is easier for the village to plan together, and unity is power.”
As others in the community note the benefits enjoyed by the participants, interest in SILC has grown. Interest is so strong that the groups are now contemplating whether to admit new members in the middle of their SILC cycle rather than to make them wait until the next cycle. This increased interest will likely lead to more groups forming in the community.
Lemohang Basotho members have used their savings and lending activities to start new businesses. One member took out a loan to open a small market stand. There she sells wild vegetables and other goods.
Another member, Ramiti Matsitsi (at right), used a loan of M 1,200 (US$105) to buy medicine for his sick animals. Noting the high level of demand for the medicine that was left over, he saw the opportunity to supply similar veterinary medicines in his community.
Although many SILC members take out loans for business investments, members can also borrow for household needs. In fact, one member stated how important it has been that she was able to get an M 800 (US$70) loan to meet household needs, including school fees for her children.
Meanwhile, the Lemohang Basotho savings group is planning to ramp up its activities during the second cycle by setting higher minimum and maximum savings levels. The group will purchase a ram to use for breeding in order to grow the group’s profits. These success stories and others like them are generating interest in SILC throughout Lesotho.
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