VSLAs in Palestine, Financial resources for women and self-employment!

Mrs. Nada Sawafta, 38 years old, from the village of Bardala (located in a semi-isolated area in the Jordan Valley). She is married and has 3 children. Nada graduated from Al-Quds Open University and has not been able to find employment. Her husband works as a farmer in the village, but his income barely covers the family’s basic needs.

In 2016, Nada decided to “cautiously” participate in a Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) in her village. At the time, VSLA was a new development model in the region, promoted by We Effect’s CIVSAM programme and implemented in collaboration with the Economic and Social Development Center of Palestine (ESDC).

At the end of the first VSLA cycle, the “Bisan” group conducted the share-out meeting. Nada and all the participating women were overjoyed when they received the “harvest” of their modest savings and held the stamped savings books “shining” with blue ink in the form of a share.

“That day, when the group distributed the money and I saw the projects the women were doing with the money from the loans, I became even more encouraged and inspired!”

Nada Sawafta

In the second cycle, Nada received her first loan of 2500 ILS, which she used to buy a printer, since there was no printer in the village. And since her house is near the school, she started offering the printing service to the students and residents of the village, saving them a lot of time and effort to travel to other villages for it.

Later, Nada took another loan of 2000 ILS, with which she bought the basic equipment for creating teaching aids materials for schools, wall journals and paintings at the request of the students. From the proceeds of this project she bought her own sheep, which she takes care of, whose milk she sells and which she processes into yogurt and cheese. Then she took another loan of 3000 ILS and bought traditional items used in Palestinian weddings and henna parties, such as drums, straw baskets, sieves and pottery vessels, and decorated them nicely with traditional Palestinian embroidered fabrics to create a complete rental package. Offering this party package for rent secured some good income, especially during the wedding season.

“We enjoy our weekly meeting, we come here to save, get loans, and enjoy the social part. We discuss many topics, we advise each other and support each other with specific problems in our lives and in our business. We feel stronger together because we support each other, this group is really a safe place for all of us, we are taken care of and advised by the programme staff”

A member of Bisan Group

Following the success cycles of VSLAs that continue to this day, she received a loan of 1,000 shekels and began making traditional Palestinian bread and couscous, considered one of the most popular Palestinian dishes. She not only uses social media to market her production, but also sells her bread and couscous products through the Tubas Cooperative for Investment Services shop, as these cooperative members are originally women from VSLA groups in Tubas governorate.

Nada had her three children join VSLAs to encourage them to save money. Ms. Nada is an enthusiastic, ambitious woman working for a better future for herself and her family. She is currently running the projects in collaboration with her sister-in-law. She dreams of expanding the projects and having an office in the village so that she can run her businesses more easily. She also dreams of opening a bookstore that sells stationery, in addition to a library that will encourage children to read.