When we visit villages that are targeted by traffickers, we see that modern slavery is, at its core, an economic crime. That’s why we were thrilled to hear from an inspiring grandmother named Stella Abrokwah in Arkrah, Ghana. She explained how our Village Savings and Loan Association transformed not just her life, but the lives of her five grandchildren.
Stella had been struggling to provide basic needs to her five grandchildren by selling charcoal and iced water. “It was always a daily struggle,” she told us. “My grandchildren hardly attended school regularly and eventually became prone to child abuse and trafficking.”
That is when she decided to expand her business by borrowing from the Village Savings and Loan Association. Free the Slaves establishes these savings clubs to build grassroots economic resilience. In remote communities where there are no banks, people often borrow from traffickers posing as money lenders when there’s an urgent financial need. The Village Savings and Loan Association ends this key vulnerability.
Stella received business training and a small loan. The association became her bank.
It worked. Stella has expanded beyond street trading and runs a mini-shop stocked with different items. “Business is much better and my financial position has improved,” she told us. “I am excited about my situation because I am able to provide adequately for my grandchildren and ensure that they attend school regularly.”
When we establish Village Savings and Loan Associations in Ghana and Haiti, community members lift themselves out of precarious financial situations that make them vulnerable to trafficking. It only costs about $1,000 per village in training and supplies to get villagers started.
We hope you can help us start the next Village Savings and Loan Association with a gift to Free the Slaves. Actually, you can help us start the next two associations. You can double the Village Savings and Loans Associations because a generous foundation is matching all contributions up to $100,000 this summer during our Doubling Down on Freedom Campaign.
Changing the economic fundamentals of rural villages by supporting small businesswomen is one of the most important investments you could ever make.
Field reporting for this story was conducted by Nana Boateng Appenteng of our partner International Needs Ghana. The story was written for the FTS Blog by Julia Grifferty.