CCSL Savings and Microcredit Project
The Council of Churches in Sierra Leone (CCSL) is an umbrella organization comprised of twenty Protestant church denominations and ten para-church organizations. The Council’s priority is to be relevant to the contemporary issues facing the church and society in Sierra Leone from a nonpartisan perspective. Food security, promotion and enhancement of sustainable peace, mitigation of gender-based violence, and inclusive access to quality education are several of the areas that the CCSL addresses through their life-giving ministries in Sierra Leone.
The CCSL Savings and Microcredit Project provides support for communities with limited access to financial services. The CCSL helps member churches to train and organize groups of approximately 25 young adults to begin income-generating projects, practice savings habits, and participate in the return of interest generated in other for others to participate in the program. As a result, participants have more resources for their family to provide food, housing, education, and savings.
The project is designed to empower young adults economically, but also to bring together like-minded individuals who must rely on and trust one another in the group for all to succeed. Groups make loans to one another and these loans are repaid with a small amount of interest so that additional funds can be made available to other groups. The project began with 370 individuals from rural households in Kambia and Port Loko, Sierra Leone. Each group is autonomous in their loaning decisions, and all transactions are carried out in group meetings.
One example of an autonomous group of the CCSL project is the Glory Women’s Savings and Microcredit group. The group is made up of 35 members, and they came together to start businesses including interior decoration and chair rentals. Since the beginning of the project, many groups have become self-managed and are using their own resources at this point.
CCSL is determining new ways to provide additional capacity building opportunities and workshops on new topics to benefit medium-sized businesses, as well as creating more groups for more individuals to participate in the project. Several groups are embarking on agricultural and livestock-rearing projects, and the CCSL is planning to build a storage facility for members to use.
CCSL shares that since the outbreak of COVID-19, groups have paused their weekly meetings and many of the income-generating projects are experiencing challenges. The country of Sierra Leone is no different from others in fighting the spread of the virus and has been implementing public health measures such as lockdowns and restricted travel in order to contain the virus. In this recent video update, CCSL shares how COVID-19 has impacted the work of the council at this time.
Update: June 2022
The Council of Churches in Sierra Leone (CCSL) Savings and Microcredit Project is designed to empower young women economically, but also to bring together like-minded individuals who must rely on and trust one another in the group for all to succeed. Groups make loans to one another, and these loans are repaid with a small amount of interest so that additional funds can be made available to other groups. The project began with 370 individuals from rural households in Kambia and Port Loko, Sierra Leone. Each group is autonomous in their loaning decisions, and all transactions are carried out in group meetings.
Women in the program also participate in capacity building training sessions on leadership skills, personal development, adult literacy, and finance. To date, over 550 women in 16 communities in the western region of Sierra Leone have participated. In a recent evaluation of the project with participants, women indicate the project has improved their household financial well-being, women are feeling more empowered, and over one-third of women have used funds from the project to expand their initial businesses. The project has helped women also seek medical care for their family.
One woman in the project, Mabinty, had her life turned upside down when the 2021 fire at Susan’s Bay destroyed all of her belongings. She is a mother of four children and the primary breadwinner in her family. As tears flowed down her cheeks, she shared, “I am grateful for my local savings and loan group. I initially was given a solidarity fund when I lost all of my belongings. This restored my dignity within the community and rescued me from shame, disgrace, and trauma.”
As mentioned previously, the COIVD-19 pandemic has caused challenges in keeping businesses open and restricted the ability to meet often in person. Additionally, a fire in 2021 impacted several businesses and homes. However, the CCSL continues to walk alongside these microcredit groups amid the challenges, offering support through connecting them to businesses and service providers, monitoring the project, and offering training or guidance on different specialties. The CCSL shares the women who have formed groups together have become a close circle of friends who are there to support one another through thick and thin. In the future, the CCSL would like to provide discussions and support on pertinent issues affecting women in the project, including gender-based violence, parenting support, HIV/AIDS, and reproductive health care.
Update: January 2023
In 2022, the CCSL had a focus on capacity training for the now 750 women in 20 communities across the Western Area involved in the Savings and Microcredit Project. One training included information on leading and managing a Savings Group and Cooperative for group leaders. Other educational opportunities for the participants included empowerment courses on Gender-Based Violence, including defining Gender-Based Violence, inspiring women to prevent Gender-Based Violence, understanding the newly enacted Gender Empowerment Law, and increasing links to partner community organizations such as the Family Support Unit and Rainbow Initiative.
New income-generating activities have been implemented by project participants in the last year. These include projects such as the Mongo group, who have started agriculture and fishing projects and the Yagala group have been farming rice and vegetables. One common priority for women earning a new source of income has been to seek better medical attention for their families. Additionally, with their community development funds, groups have dug water wells, provided food and essentials to a school for the blind impacted by disaster.
Story from Kamara
Like many areas, Kamara has no piped water for the community. Women and girls fetch water in the nearby stream. Dissatisfied with this situation, the women in the Kamara Savings Group joined together with several local organizations to construct a well. Today, the community has a hand dug well that is safe water for domestic use. A woman in the group shares: “We are proud to have a safe well dug through our savings loan development funds. Today, our children no longer have to travel long distances to fetch water.”
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To make a gift for this ministry online or by check use the online donation page.
- 100% of your gift will be directed to CCSL Savings and Microcredit Project
- You will receive updates on the work in this area as they become available
- Share in the vision of God’s abundant life for all people
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