Meet the Ɔky3so Village Savings and Loans Association, located in the Dago community. As part of monitoring activities for the PTF Project established VSLA groups, the project team joined in their share purchase meeting.
The group meets every Friday at 9:00 am GMT at one of the group member’s residence, the group is made up of 20 members (all women). The members are largely fish processors with their share value at 10 Gh cedis.
Stepping into the meeting venue at 8:45 am GMT, 3 executives were already present with seats well arranged in a circular fashion and the locked VSLA box placed on a freshly-made wooden table. The project team was welcomed animatedly by the members present and entreated to feel at home. Gradually, the other members begin to throng to the meeting grounds. At 9:00 GMT, with 16 members seated, the chairperson, Maame Efua Kwansima makes eye contact with the key keepers who promptly move towards the table to open the metal box and a pre-designated blue bowl for fines is placed at the feet of the chairperson. A green bowl for social fund alongside other materials are taken out of the box and placed on the table in front of the record keeper.
Beaming with authority and respect, Maame Efua Kwansimah, calls the gathering to order, puts in a word of prayer, and instructs the record keeper to collect monies for the social fund. The record keeper, Patience Ekua Mensah, with her high-pitched voice and fante-esque mannerism, calls out the assigned number of each member – one after the other. Members approach the table, pay their social fund of 2 cedis into the green bowl, pick up their passbooks, and go back to their seats. Midstream, two members walk in, knowing very well their offense, they walk straight to the chairperson and drop a pre-agreed fine of 1 cedi each into the bowl that sat at the feet of the chairperson.
The money counter, Esi Takuwah, seated next to the table and looking radiant in her newly-plaited hair, fetches out the social fund, counts the monies, hands it to her deputy for recounting, and announces the amount received. The record keeper, always with her pen in hand, documents the social fund raised. The money is kept in a green sack. Two non-executive members are heard whispering; Maame Efua Kwansimah sharply reminds the culprits of the misdeed. A wide smile draws on their faces as they get up to pay their fines. A couple of members nod in affirmation. Quiet is restored.
Maame Efua Kwansimah informs the record keeper to conduct the share purchase. Patience Ekua Mensah once again calls out members by their numbers. Members, having their share purchase for the week inserted in their passbooks, move in turns and hand the passbooks to the money counter. Esi Takuwah takes out the monies, gives the passbook to Patience, and indicates to her the number of shares due each member.
A couple of attendees keenly observe the stamps being assigned in their passbooks as had been instructed during the preparatory phase. The monies are counted, announced to the group, and documented. Esi Takuwah takes out the monies and keeps it in a pale blue sack. Items used during the meeting are quickly packed into the box and fines received are placed in the sack containing the share purchase. Maame Efua Kwansimah calls for a discussion on ‘any other business’ (AOB); no one had a thing to raise. Maame Efua Kwansimah then signals the 3 key keepers to get the box locked after which she says the closing prayer for all to disperse. The meeting ends and the box keeper fetches the box, wraps it in a cloth, and carries it home. The other attendees congregate into smaller groups and chatter away.
Amounts raised during this meeting are social fund (Gh 36), share purchase (Gh 390), and fines (4 cedis). This is the group’s 4th share purchase meeting; their first loan meeting will be in the next 4 weeks.