Atongiwunima is a mother of six from Bolgatanga in northeast Ghana. Caring for her family was always a struggle despite Atongiwunima earning income from both farming and basket weaving.
“It was hard to give my children both an education and to feed them nutritious meals. While my children were enrolled in school, I couldn’t provide them with school supplies, uniforms or books,” she told us.
Atongiwunima was concerned that her children wouldn’t receive an education or would be constantly hungry and malnourished. So, thanks to generous donors, she joined a basket weaving group and things started to change.
WEAVING NEW SKILLS
Even though Atongiwunima had created baskets to sell previously, once she joined an basket-weaving group supported by CFTC’s local partner, TradeAID, her skills began to flourish.
“I learned how to weave so many different types of baskets! I can make laundry baskets, baskets for pots, flower baskets – many new designs,” Atongiwunima said. As part of the group, she also received business management training to better market her products.
She also joined a Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA), and this combination of skills development, marketing support and access to credit and savings truly changed her life.
Like many other women, Atongiwunima didn’t have the means to borrow money or save for the future. However, the VSLA provides her with funds that she invests in her basket weaving business. Using her loan money, Atongiwunima is now able to buy new dyes and straw to weave higher quality baskets and get top price for them at market. She is also able to pay for health insurance for her family, and use her extra profits to buy new shoes and books for her children.
“By joining a VSLA, I feel part of a community. By paying into the fund and sharing money with other women, I’m learning how to save and plan my finances for the future. As well, I feel as if I’m part of a new family. All of us women help one another by contributing to the shared savings box and making sure each of us has enough.“
SAVING FOR THE FUTURE
Because of her new skills and cash flow, Atongiwunima weaves four times as many baskets as she used to and now earns more money per basket. In addition, she portions out her savings so some of it goes in a commercial bank to pay for farming expenses while the rest goes towards her children’s needs.
Since Atongiwunima joined the VSLA, her children do not go hungry. They have enough nutritious food throughout the year and their school supplies and fees are paid for. And, the VSLA also helped provide crucial funds in a time of emergency when Atongiwunima’s child underwent an unexpected surgery in Bolgatanga.
Atongiwunima plans to grow more food on her farm in addition to growing her basket-weaving business. She’s also started to sell kenkey (sourdough bread) to earn more money. Her main goal is to feed her children, send them to school, and make sure they are healthy. “Training in the VSLA has taught me to plan for future financial needs for me and my family. By saving today, I have the security of knowing I have funds for future emergencies. Now, I’m not worried about the future.”
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