Julia Bridgforth Design


VSL (Stephen Mndewa)


Stephen Mndewa switched on each light one by one, illuminating the small shop. An organized nest of wires hung from every section of the wall, connecting all of his purchased electronics to the solar panels outside. He stood with a smile as bright as the lights, looking proudly upon his glowing collection. We sat on a bench and marveled at how many devices the strong African rays were able to power. Stephen Mndewa is a 40 year old farmer who is married with three children, and thanks to his involvement in Village Saving and Loans (VSL) Groups, he has been able to expand his title to father, husband, farmer and now business owner. A VSL is a group of people who save together annually and are able to take small loans from those savings. It is a transparent and democratic system in which members can trust. Mndewa is a VSL village agent in Gawaye and has started eleven groups, four of which he manages and the other seven he supervises. He was able to save 250,000 Tsh and the group loaned 750,000 Tsh in order to purchase necessities like solar panels, a battery and rent. In addition to his solar electronics business, Mndewa used the remaining sum for food to feed his family and purchased a bicycle for easier transportation. Now, he is spreading the knowledge of VSL to the rest of his village in the hopes that his neighbors will benefit from the groups as much as he has.

Julia Bridgforth