Youth Savings and Loans Associations are keeping young people home in rural communities where they’re cultivating businesses
By George Baiden, CCFC country director, Ghana
Unemployment is a challenge around the world, and Ghana is no exception. Youth aged 15 to 24 are especially frustrated. In many parts of Africa, and in Ghana specifically, unemployment is leading to early marriages for girls and vices — including drugs — for boys living in remote rural communities.
In these agriculturally abundant communities, the younger generation lacks the capital to invest in land, so many move to urban centres.
That’s why Christian Children’s Fund of Canada (CCFC) introduced Youth Savings and Loans Associations (YSLA) to support young people aged 15 to 24 in launching productive social and economic ventures.
YSLAs are similar to Village Savings and Loans Associations (Learn more), which are successful in many Ghanaian communities. The new approach ensures youth can use the platform to save and loan money while participating in positive social education and advocacy in their communities.
With more than 200 groups and 5,000 (and growing) members, YSLAs are making a big impact, already garnering more than $100,000 in savings overall since the program began two years ago.
Fatimah (above), 20, a junior-high graduate, joined the YSLA, paying the Canadian equivalent of $3 per week for her membership. With this commitment, she grew her savings and got a $35 loan to buy peanuts to sell. Gradually, she’s increased the number of groundnuts she sells and has also begun to buy sugar. She’s hoping to open a local shop in her community.
It’s a similar entrepreneurship story for Sa’ad. “Before I joined the YSLA, life was difficult,” he told me. “There was no way of getting money to buy [farming materials]; the interest is so high. I was a little sceptical when I was approached to join the YSLA.” However, CCFC staff encouraged him. He explained: “I joined, paying five cedis (approximately $1) a week and took a loan of 100 cedis (approximately $28.50) to purchase fertilizer for my pepper farm. Gradually, I paid it back and took another to farm millet. Now I do not have to worry when it comes to the purchase of seeds and fertilizer.”
YSLAs are generating excitement among young people determined to earn a living and contribute to their community’s development.
Latif, who’s benefited from a YSLA, summed it up for me during a recent visit: “Thanks to CCFC and partners, I am the secretary of a youth group. We are contributing to the development of the community, both economic and social. We are grateful to CCFC and all donors.”
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About Christian Children’s Fund of Canada:
Christian Children’s Fund of Canada works globally to support children and youth who dream of a better world. For nearly 60 years, we’ve brought together diverse people and partnerships, driven by a common belief: education extends beyond the walls of a classroom and is the most powerful tool children can use to change their world. We focus on breaking barriers preventing access to inclusive, quality education for all, especially girls.