Often times, we have doubts when we are introduced to new practices. But these new practices, though they are challenges, will open new avenues and opportunities for us. Bangate in Barcelona, Sorsogon is a remote coastal barangay facing the Pacific Ocean. The main source of livelihood is fishing and farming. The women are engaged in handicraft. It was in this setting that a Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) training was conducted among the Bangate Fisherfolk Association last December 23, 2019 by TRIAS/WE EFFECT Fifty (50) people were invited to attend the said training but only thirty six (36) were present and twenty six (26) of them became members of VSLA.
These 26 members started with less than Two Thousand Pesos (Php 2,000) and every Saturday they meet and give their share. After fifty (50) weeks, the Bangate VSLA collected a total amount of Two Hundred Fifty Eight Thousand Three Hundred Twelve Pesos (Php 258,312. It was a big achievement for the members of the group. Never in their entire life were they able to raise such an amount of money. With a 21% interest assured on their share, everyone was happy and thankful to VSLA. According to Manuel Gabitan: “The advantage of being a member of VSLA is that you do not need a collateral nor a co-maker to be able to avail of loans as a member. Walang kuskos balungos basta In Good Faith (IGF) ka, papautangin ka. The group is transparent in dealing with their members such that there is always trust. In just three hours, we already know the financial status of our group. The financial statement is very clear to us. We are grateful to TRIAS/WE EFFECT for teaching us to be financially independent so we do not have to rely on lending institutions. It is our wish that in the near future, the members of VSLA do not need to look for lending agencies/corporations/groups that will charge exorbitant interest rates just because they need money.”
Doubts were raised during the first year of operation. But with the system in place and the earnest guidance of the officers, more people are now willing to join VSLA. From the twenty six (26) members during the first cycle, they are now 92. • Indeed, with such good results, people will be attracted to join the VSLA. According to the group, little by little they have begun to see change in themselves when it comes to their attitude about savings and loans. They now see the advantage and beauty of VSLA—what it only needs are more disciplined and committed members.