By CHRISTABEL CHIWILA –
THE economic matrix of saving money comes in many forms with the Village banks, which come in form of loans designed to empower people including vulnerable members of society, was a value to household economies.
Mostly, these Village banks emerging at an unprecedented pace in rural, peri-urban and urban areas have proved to improve the livelihood of people and are to a large extent controlled by enterprising women.
Some of the women are engaged in small and medium enterprises in order to grow their businesses, subsequently improving their standards of living form scores of people and also the scheme helping to eradicate poverty.
Luanshya District Commissioner Joel Chibuye says that the Government, through the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services was implementing a number of social protection programmes aimed at reducing poverty, scaling up the women empowerment agenda.
Mr Chibuye said systems and processes have been put in place to improve food national security, social cash transfer programme, among others.
Several interventions have been put in place to ensure that women were empowered through facilitating their effective role in influencing the national development activities expected to take place in the processes of economic prosperity of the country.
The launch of the second phase of the Village Bank loan disbursement in Luanshya signified a positive development that demonstrates the commitment of Government to ensure women played a leading role in economic activities.
Mr Chibuye, who was speaking on behalf of Copperbelt Province Minister Japhean Mwakalombe, said the Village Bank programme started in the year 2015 in Kafubu bloc with K75,000 being disbursed to 135 beneficiaries with the individual loan threshold ranging between K200 to K600 in Kafubu bloc and Roan sub-centres
The total amount of funds disbursed since inception including today’s launch is K255, 800 with a total number of standing 305 beneficiaries.
Mr Chibuye added that the Village Bank in Luanshya was now being implemented in the third centre in Mikonfwa area, adding that the first cycle was launched in 2016 with the total amount disbursed standing at K15,000 serving 90 beneficiaries with the individual loan threshold at between K200 and K600.
The latest Village Bank that was recently launched witnessed the disbursement of K65, 800 to benefit 80 beneficiaries for the second cycle. He added that the individual loan threshold had increased from K500, 00 to K1,000. 00 making it more meaningful as compared to the previous cycle which was K200.00 to K600.00, as this equally proved women now have the capacity to pay back the loans.
Furthermore, their ability to pay has been enhanced due to the entrepreneurship skills which the department of Community Development has been continually providing to them.
Government has also proved that it was committed to improving the livelihood of the vulnerable people, especially the womenfolk in its quest to reduce poverty as enshrined in the Seventh National Development Plan (SNDP) under the theme ‘Poverty and Vulnerability Reduction’ which suffices to mention that under the plan, the Government is in line with SNDP number one of implementing national appropriate social protection systems to achieve substantial coverage of the poor and the vulnerable.
Impressive enough, the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services has put strategies in place to increase access to collateral-free finances for production and exports for vulnerable groups such as women and the youth focusing on accelerating implementation of the integrated framework of basic social protection programmers put in place at the district and community levels.
Maureen Kunda of Luanshya, said introduction and promotion of the village banks was a timely economic initiative as it improved household income levels.
Provincial Community Development officer Lawrence Kaonga said his department under the Ministry of Community Development was mandated to accelerate social economic empowerment of the vulnerable people through the provision of economic empowerment programmes such as various community-based skills development training programmes, improving support skills such as food security pack coordination of stakeholders in community development service delivery, among others.
Mr Kaonga says all these programmes are reflected in the Seventh National Development Plan.
The Luanshya empowerment programme was targeting mostly women who are already in business but needed financial boost to their capital.
He added that this will continue for 25 weeks up to six months during this time the weekly repayment to the loan will be done.
All players should team up to ensure that the implementation of the project bears the desired results for the benefit of future beneficiaries.
Furthermore, the Government was continually putting in place efforts to expand coverage of social assistance to address income insecurity among poor communities and also improve support access to good health and relevant education, improved nutrition and human capital investment.
Such empowerment programmes should be followed up to ensure beneficiaries pay back their loans to ensure sustainability of the scheme programme.