Covenant Faculty’s Study on Women Savings Behaviour, Business Support Emerges Best at UK Conference
A paper delivered by Professor Evans Osabuohien of the Department of Economics and Development Studies, Covenant University, at the First International Conference on African Entrepreneurship and Innovation (ICAEI 2019), at De Montfort University, Leicester, United Kingdom, has won the Best Paper Award at the conference. The paper recommended support for the formation of Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA) in the most deprived and rural areas in the country, with governments at all levels embracing the initiative for it to thrive.
The paper titled “Innovations in Women Savings Behaviour and Business Support: The Money-Box’ Model” was a product of deep study on the adopted savings culture of rural women as means of supporting their agrarian business according to each member’s contribution.
The study found that most of the members were able to finance their farming needs and thus increased their farm size leading to increase in incomes, with majority of participants in the scheme acknowledging that being members had enabled them to acquire some assets, finance their children’s education, healthcare payment and provided social support to their household.
The study, which was a joint research work between Professor Osabuohien and his academic mentee, Alhassan Karakara, discovered that some members who had never been with other VSLAs, acknowledged that those groups used to give loans to members, with many members reneging on paying back the loans. According to him, “When members are not able to pay back loans, this created problem for the group leading to its collapse”.
The research work showed that most other VSLA groups that had operated and somehow collapsed, was as a result of how those groups were being managed, especially as it related to loans disbursement and debt recovery processes.
The paper zeroed in on the impact of the ‘Money Box’ model initiative on the welfare of group members and the viability of this model, which was a bit different from the known VSLA groups. It was discovered that the model had the inherent mechanism to help achieve financial inclusion, increase access to credit by the poor and vulnerable, which could be harnessed through the VSLA model.
The research work called for organisations to provide basic and adequate training on proper record keeping and management as well as proper use of members’ savings, while also helping operators of the scheme develop capacity in business related trainings so as to strengthen the development of income-generating activities amongst the VSLA.
On his motivation for researching the ‘Money Box’ model, Professor Osabuohien, whose research interest is international economics, institutional economics, land and agricultural economics and development, noted that poverty and vulnerability in the municipality being a widespread syndrome, had great effects on disadvantaged groups. He said had prompted researchers to look at the group’s operations in terms of its way of pooling and financing members’ farming activities.