Bamba Zolet is 35 and lives in Guéyo in southwestern Côte d’Ivoire. Thanks to a saving group she was able to break out of extreme poverty.
Bamba Zolet is 35 and lives in Guéyo in southwestern Côte d’Ivoire. Originally from the far west of the country, she came with her husband in search of a better life in the country’s largest cocoa producing region. However, things did not go as planned. After 10 years in Guéyo, Bamba and her husband, Diomandé, and their two daughters were living in extreme poverty. Their two-room house was in a state of disrepair, with a straw roof that leaked throughout the rainy season.
Diomandé, who eked out a living as a sharecropper, lost the cocoa plantation that he had been working on. The family’s sole source of income was Bamba’s kitchen condiment business, which was not enough to cover daily household expenses or the girls’ school costs.
“I quarreled regularly with my husband because the problems were enormous,” Bamba says.
“I quarreled regularly with my husband because the problems were enormous,” Bamba says. “In November 2015, my sister-in-law gave me information about the VSLA (Village Savings and Loans Associations) project implemented by CARE International.”
In the beginning, Bamba was hesitant to join the savings group, because she didn’t think she had the means. But after only two meetings, she began to be more hopeful about her family’s future. Soon, she invited her husband to join, too. In the first savings cycle, Bamba took out small loans to launch some income-generating activities, including selling various products. At the end of the cycle, the couple used the funds collected during the group share-out to buy land in order to build a decent house. The second cycle allowed Bamba to increase her entrepreneurial activities, buying fresh fish that she prepared and sold from her home. At the end of the second cycle, Bamba took her business to the next level, purchasing two freezers, a stabilizer and a scale, and renting a store for the sale of frozen fish.
Now, the couple generates enough income to cover all the household expenses and their daughters’ school fees
Now, the couple generates enough income to cover all the household expenses and their daughters’ school fees, while still setting aside money toward the construction of a new home.
Bamba runs her microenterprise now with two employees, and she continues to build on her success. Recently, she took out a loan of 350,000 CFA francs from a microfinance institution (MFI) partner of the Women for Change project. With that money, she reinforced her equipment, thus allowing her to increase her production and diversify her goods. Today, Bamba and Diomandé are considered role models in their community.
Want to know more? Read the article Power to the women!