The VICOBA is called “the liberation of the people” by women and men across Tanzania.
UNITE has been working closely with The Women’s Education & Economic Centre of Moshi, WEECE, to advance and grow their village microbank program, called VICOBA, since 2010. Having seen the success of the VICOBA, under the leadership of UNITE’s Managing Director Kim Merriman, we are now launching our own small VICOBA programs in both Arusha and Morogoro. Most recently, Unite has partnered with Women Rise Above and the NGO Build Tanzania Family Futures to help role out a series of such micobanking programs across the country.
Each VICOBA has 15 to 30 members who operate in small groups of five. Those small groups are responsible for the repayment of one another’s loans, if one is to default. The VICOBA elects its chairperson, treasurer, secretary, accountant and disciplinarian, and determines its own rules and regulations. All funds and bank documents are kept in a bank box that has three locks. After each meeting the three keys go home to three different villages with three different members, for safety. Members vote to decide their interest rate, which is always paid at the time a loan is given; the timing of repayment; the amount of possible loans; and how to submit a business plan. The goal of the VICOBA is to lift its members out of extreme poverty, create a community that cares and looks out for one another, and to unite and empower members in a common mission.
Small business that often develop as a result of VICOBA include: Roadside fruit and vegetable stands, brick-making businesses, piggeries, small dukas, hair dressing salons, sewing and clothes-making shops, raising livestock and farming, and endless others. As a result, school fees are paid, disintegrating homes are repaired, medicines are purchased, more people are hired, and lives throughout communities are uplifted. For more information about VICOBA email email@example.com.