Meet Elélé and Juliette
Elélé and Juliette are members of an artisanal gold mining community in the Central West region of Burkina Faso. For the past year, they have been meeting weekly with their neighbours to put aside a small amount of money.
They are part of the Foundations for Peace project which aims at promoting of a more responsible gold artisanal mining sector in Burkina Faso while contributing to peace building within artisanal mining communities.
The project, through AFECCOR model, supports artisanal gold miners and community members to set up village savings and loans associations (VSLA). Members meet regularly for a year to put their money into their association’s savings and lend money to members. The interest paid on the loans is added to the common fund. Thus, members’ savings increase over time.
In Burkina Faso, AFECCOR model is implemented by the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) and IMPACT.
In the Centre-West and Centre-North regions, the project supported the establishment of 54 VSLAs at five mining sites and the first year of savings ran from December 2021 to December 2022. The VSLAs have over 1,400 members, including artisanal miners, farmers, traders and community leaders. Women make up 80% of the membership.
With her savings, Elélé, an artisanal gold miner and mother of eight, was able to pay for her children’s school fees and books.
In the first year, members of the 54 groups collectively accumulated over US$138,000 in savings. Each member saved an average of US$7.86 per month, a significant investment relative to local income. According to IMPACT research in both regions, men earn an average of US$98 per month and women only US$28.
The majority of members – 95% of women and 88% of men – took out loans from their association. Some members took out loans to invest in their businesses, as in the case of Juliette.
With her loan, Juliette bought a donkey and a cart. She makes and sells dolo, a traditional beer. Thanks to the donkey and the cart, Juliette was able to develop her business and make it profitable.
In addition to the weekly savings, members pay a small amount each week into a solidarity fund that is used to cover unexpected expenses, such as medicines or funerals. The fund works like insurance, which is rare in rural communities or high-risk settings.
Access to savings and credit increases the economic security and resilience of artisanal gold mining communities. VSLAs serve as an important entry point for local conflict resolution as they promote community solidarity, women’s empowerment and gender equality.
Access to finance, particularly through the VSLAs, breaks the link with predatory finance and illicit trade and ultimately paves the way for responsible supply chains for the marketing of gold.
Foundations for Peace is made possible with the financial support of Global Affairs Canada. Read more about the Foundation for Peace project.