Mavuno is a Swahili word that is derived from kuvuna which means to harvest. In the Inclusive Finance Programme (IFP), a Swisscontact pioneer programme in East Africa, mavuno forms part of the project intervention of developing community savings and lending groups. When applied in the financial situation, community members are organised into groups called mavuno and provided with essential training and linkages to formal financial institutions. Mavuno advocates for smallholders to sow seeds of savings to be able to reap financial benefits.
“I first heard about the Main Maendeleo Mavuno group from my neighbour, Ruth Wangui who was introduced to the group by her husband, Mr. Wachira. I noticed that Ruth was able to comfortably feed her family, keep her children in school and buy more cows for dairy farming. She explained the concept of group savings and lured me into joining her group in August 2014.” Eunice Wangari Mwangi says. The Main Maendeleo Mavuno group has to date accumulated savings of CHF 7,809.56 and comprises of 13 heterogenous members who contribute CHF 5 a month.
Eunice, 35, has taken several loans which she has used to improve her livelihood. She has been able to pay school fees for her children in boarding school, take up medical cover, buy an acre of land, three dairy cows, build a silage, plant different food crops and open a small shop that supplies fast moving products like soap, tea leaves, match sticks, candy, airtime among others. At the end of every month, she makes approximately CHF 147 which translates to CHF 1'760 a year from dairy farming and her shop.
Eunice wants to increase her monthly contribution from CHF 5 to CHF 10 a month so that she can increase her savings and be able to borrow more. She plans to take a loan within the last quarter of 2018 worth CHF 1,953.20 to be able to buy three more cows and a shaft cutter since she has decided to focus on dairy farming after experiencing its financial benefits first-hand.
"With the loan, profits from the shop and the dairy farming together with my husband’s income, we will be able to buy raw materials and build a three-bedroom stone house. Presently, we live in a two-bedroom mud house and I would like to give my children more space and better housing" says Eunice. Her husband is not in any savings group but would like to join one. He has seen the benefit of membership and will join a group as soon as the chance arises. In the meantime, he chips into her monthly contribution so that she can acquire more shares within her group. In her view, if she continues to manage her time and finances well, there is nothing she cannot achieve.
Every so often, Ruth reminisces how the mavuno savings group has improved her living standards. She is 42 and a mother of three; one boy and two girls and has been a member of the group for six years. "Before, I assumed that financial management was only for the rich who handle large sums of money.
After the training we got from Mr. Nahashon, our Community Based Trainer, I became aware that good planning and management even of the little I have can go a long way. I plan to build up my savings this year and take up another loan in January 2019 which I will use to open a shop in town that provides animals feeds to the farmers in the area."
Both Eunice and Ruth hope to have grown substantially in the next few years and to prosper in dairy farming so that they can show by example that a determined woman can achieve whatever she sets her mind to.
Through the Inclusive Finance Programme, Swisscontact acknowledges the group savings and lending model as a key contributor towards increasing inclusivity of financial products and services among the excluded population. Financial skills training and linkages to formal financial institutions are key in this intervention.