Ghizo women save for the future and fisheries
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 that began with 40 now has the membership of more than 500 women from the local communities and indications are the numbers will continue to grow, and 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 the local indigenous women in the Solomons are the backbone of the family structure, playing a vital role not just in the day to day running of their household, but in ensuring a better future for their children.
“Unfortunately there are very few opportunities for local women, especially in the rural areas. So WWF Pacific is empowering local women in 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, that will provide long-term alternate income now and into the future. They can achieve their goals by ensuring a better future for their family,” he added.
Women from 36 local communities on Ghizo identified the need for a saving scheme after going through seven financial literacy and four leadership training sessions. The training conducted equips women with simple and practical ways on how to manage their family finances through budgeting, financial recording and also to differentiate between their "needs" and "wants".
Seeto says the willingness of the women to actively participate in the training and put to practice what they learnt 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. The various economic activities generated are also an advantage for the women’s saving scheme in that the women have many income generating options.
The GELCA Women’s Saving Club was launched on June 20th, 2014, coinciding with the announcement of the club’s revolving fund and the micro-loan component of the scheme.