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WWF works to sustain the natural world for the benefit of people and wildlife, collaborating with partners from local to global levels in nearly 100 countries.
In southern Tanzania, women are working together to save money, access small loans, and obtain emergency funding for medical or other crises. Known as Village Savings and Loan Alliances (VSLAs), these models are an integral component of the CARE-WWF Alliance, a partnership that champions the power and resilience of women, communities, and ecosystems so current and future generations can thrive. They are self-managed groups of individual members from within a community who pool funds together.
Regular VSLA meetings also play another critical role: drawing the communities together and furthering more of the Alliance’s mission. While they are gathered to deposit their savings and discuss their finances, people also feel encouraged by the Alliance to discuss and problem-solve around landscape restoration, the value of businesses that do not harm the environment, and agriculture practices that help mitigate the impacts of climate change. These discussions contribute to the successful implementation of the other Alliance programming that supports villages in protecting their natural resources and helps small-scale farmers and producers build the skills they need to increase production, improve resilience, adapt to climate change, diversify diets, and boost nutrition.
Lilian Mkusa has been the VSLA project coordinator for the Alliance in Tanzania since the program began in 2008. In this role, she helps the communities start their programs, provides financial and savings training, advises on business startup options, and helps ensure the active participation and leadership of women in the groups.
Below, Mkusa shares stories of success and transformation in her work with two of the 182 VSLA groups she has supported.