The USAID-sponsored Investing for Business Expansion (IBEX) in collaboration with USAID Food and Enterprsie Development (FED) has completed a two-day training for several Village Savings and Loan Associations in Monrovia.
The training was held recently at the Crown Hotel in Paynesvillie, outside Monrovia and was jointly facilitated by Food and Enterprise Development (FED) and IBEX.
The participants were taught in business management, record keeping, cash-flow, budgeting and financial projections as well as requirements for accessing finance through commercial banks and non-bank financial institutions (NBFIs) with emphasis on business registration, writing business plans, effective business management and proper record keeping.
The training according to facilitators, was an eye opener for VSLAs to prepare themselves for future financial opportunities to expand and grow. “The goal of any business is to make profit and expand”, they said.
The IBEX facilitators in separate statements added that besides collaterals which banks also request for to gurantee loan repayments, financial institutions are more interested in business performance that is shown by the financial statement and track records, including cash-flow, balance sheet and income statement which indicate profitability or loss.
“If you have not been in the practice of keeping your business and financial records, begin to do so after here”, one facilitator noted.
They encouraged them (VSLAs) to open their accounts and deposit their money in the banks “because no bank or any financial institution will take the risk by lending to strangers”.
In another presentation, facilitators said VSLA is an integral mechanism to providing much needed capital to value chain stakeholders such as farmers, processors, and traders, who are not traditionally eligible for bank loans as individuals.
Farmers can use small loans from their VSLA to hire labor in their communities to help with farming activities and to invest in improved inputs and technology such as seed, fertilizer and irrigation.
They challenged VSLA members to use loans to help members invest in value-added ventures such as processing and storage to further improve the competitiveness of their food crops.
Established VSLAs with good record keeping systems and history of good financial management can be used as a platform for receiving larger loans as a group from the Central Bank, Micro-Finance Institutions, and traditional banks. To date, the USAID FED program has formed 122 VSLA groups, providing assistance to over 3,000 farmers.
In separate remarks, the participants said the training afforded them the opportunity to acquire more useful knowledge and learn new skills, and they thanked USAID IBEX and USAID FED for the initiative.
The participants were drawn from the leadership of five established VSLAs, including Pulukpeh, MOWEDE, Yarnwellie Agricultural Project, In God’s Hands, Kweigpa, and New Generational Women in Montserrado and Margibi Counties.