Women on Gizo Island, Western province are in a better position to improve their economic status following the set-up of a women’s saving scheme in the Gizo township.
Established in November of last year, the Gizo Environment Livelihood Governance Association (GELCA) women’s saving club was developed as the micro-finance component of the Inshore Fish Aggregating Devices (IFAD) project that aims to enhance the lives of coastal artisanal fishing communities on and around the island of Ghizo.
Funded by WWF-Australia, Australian Aid and John West Australia, the IFAD project hopes to explore ways to assist the income, food security and ecology in the context of ecosystem based governance and management of coastal fisheries.
The savings scheme, which began with 40 women now has membership of more than 500 women from local communities and indications are that numbers will continue to grow.
Thus far they have deposited more than SD$60,000 in the six months the scheme has been running.
WWF-Pacific Solomon Islands country director, Shannon Seeto, said that the local indigenous women in the Solomon Islands are the backbone of the family structure, playing a vital role –not just in the day-to-day running of their households – but in ensuring a better future for their children.
“Unfortunately there are very few opportunities for local women, especially in rural areas. So WWF-Pacific is empowering local women by establishing a long term sustainable financing mechanism that enables them to save for the future,” Seeto said.
“The scheme is also giving participating women an opportunity to borrow small amounts of money to establish small scale business opportunities, providing a long term income alternative to traditional sources, now and into the future. They can achieve their goals by ensuring a better future for their family and children,” he added.
Women from 36 local communities on Ghizo identified the need for a saving scheme after undertaking seven financial literacy and four leadership training workshops. This training proved a simple and practical way to educate women on how to manage their family finances through budgeting, financial recording and through differentiating between ‘needs’ and ‘wants’.
Seeto said the willingness of the women to actively participate in the training and put into practice what they learned has been one of the driving successes behind the GELCA Women’s Saving Club.
Ghizo Island has a rich marine resource base, vast coconut plantations and is also a tourism hotspot. This gives the women’s saving scheme a range of income generating options.
The members of GELCO Women’s Saving Club will be launching and celebrating the establishment of their financial inclusion initiative on June 20, 2014. The launch will also see the announcement of the club’s revolving fund and micro loans component of the scheme.