The Asunafo North District in Ghana is home to more than 4,000 cocoa farmers registered in cooperative societies. These cocoa farmers face complex challenges that affect their productivity and livelihoods. Their vulnerability is worsened by unstable farm-related incomes and lack of access to financial services.
Accessing financial support from the microfinance companies in the communities comes with a very high interest rate.
Madam Felicia Yeboah is a 56 year old cocoa farmer in Akwaboahene in the Asunafo North District of the Ahafo Region of Ghana. Felicia has not had a comfortable life.
“Life was very challenging for me. This is because I am a cocoa farmer and during minor season there is little to nothing to feed on so one depends on loans. Here in the community, interest rate on a 3 month loan can be as high as 100%.”
Only having completed the basic level of school, Felicia is married with three children. During the minor cocoa season, daily living expenses becomes a challenge. Madam Felicia then decided to join a group of Community Savings and Loans Associations (CSLA) in Akwaboahene. The corporative, Nyame Akwan – an Akan phrase that means “Gods Way” consists of 27 women who are either cocoa farmers or traders in the community. Their aim is to assist each other through hardship with soft loans.
The CSLAs at the end of each year cycle, shares the sum of the contributed amount among members based on contributions made, and a new contribution cycle begins. These CSLAs are assisted by Agro Eco through the Mondelez International Cocoa Life project. Members of a CSLA make small, regular monetary contributions to a shared pool, from which they may each take out low-interest loans — up to three times the amount of their contribution as minimum — in the fourth week of contribution (monthly) and are expected to payback fully in 12 weeks.
“After the share out at the end of 2019/2020 saving cycle I invested in my cocoa farm in preparation for the coming season. I hired the services of the youth team to prune my three acre farm, bought some agricultural input to help boost productivity in my farm.
“Look at my face and you can see that I am a happy woman now because I have been able to invest in my farm and I am hopeful my finances and life would improve in the next cocoa season. I am now motivated to continue saving with the group and also encouraging others to join.” Madam Felicia Yeboah