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Providing economic security for minority communities in Cameroon

VSLA group in Cameroon of minority Baka women

Through the Savings and Loans Associations, members can set up small businesses and save their income

9 May, 2012: In Cameroon, poor households can struggle to meet basic needs such as food, water, housing or education. Less than 1% of households are able to get a loan from a bank and only 3.5% of the rural population has access to microfinance services.

For minority communities, meeting basic needs can be even more difficult as financial help or support is very often not offered to them at all. In Mayos, a small town in the East region of Cameroon, a large group of Baka people lives there but with no microfinance systems set up, the community members are struggling to provide for their families and put their children through school.

Saving money

As part of a Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA) project, Plan has introduced a process whereby everyone has an equal opportunity to take out a loan and save income in order to look after their families in times of need.

"Everyone in our group is at the same level and under the same rules, we are all equal. This is what is fair and right for the governance of our group," explains Georgette, the President of one of the two savings and loans group in the community.

To maintain economic security the members of the group save as much as they can a month, allowing them to manage small businesses and help each other in times of bereavement and illness. Most importantly however, it gives them the opportunity to send their children to school.

'' The money I saved allowed me to set up my business selling doughnuts,'' said Cecilia, a member of the VSLA group.

By empowering women through economic security, the scheme is helping to contribute to gender equality in the community.

'' Before, the Baka women just lived from day to day in the house. Today, we can save and manage small businesses and household problems,'' said Georgette.

Read more about Plan's work in Cameroon