One of the main activities we are doing with Bio Gardens is raising our own funds locally. Within the Bio Gardens community there are four groups of farmers which each consist of about 30 members. They meet weekly as a group for the savings where they sit together to save their money and get loans.
There is the Social Fund and the Savings Fund. The Social Fund is a common fund of the group and they can lend little money from there for important things such as food. If they can afford, they will pay a little amount for the Social Fund every week.
The other fund is the Savings Fund where they should pay at least 500 Ugandan Shillings every week but sometimes they also pay like 10,000 or more. From the Social Fund they can also get loans, that means they get small credits which they have to pay back with an interest within a month or the interest increases if they don’t pay.
Since 2017 we improved our system of not only recording the savings and loans in a hand-written book but also calculating it in the computer. That helps us to reduce mistakes and to have it safe.
Saving their money and getting micro credits makes it possible for the farmers to buy things, like for instance a mattress, that they couldn’t afford without that because they don’t earn much money as farmers. When they give the money to the fund, it helps them to accumulate enough that they wouldn’t rise individually at home to spend on household utensils.
At the end of the year the groups sit together and share the interest and the savings.
When the farmers meet for the savings, it’s also a good opportunity for them to meet with the others and to talk about current issues like projects of Bio Gardens or how to deal with the weather.