THE ROLE OF POOR-LED SAVINGS AND MICRO-CREDIT SCHEMES IN THE SOCIO-ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT OF RURAL WOMEN IN UGANDA: A CASE STUDY OF VILLAGE SAVINGS AND LOAN ASSOCIATIONS (VSLAs) IN NWOYA DISTRICT
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The study set out to examine the role of poor- led savings and micro- credit schemes on the socio-economic empowerment of women in Nwoya District. It was prompted by the women’s conditions not seemingly being any better, despite efforts by Government of Uganda and NGOs to encourage VSLAs as a weapon against poverty. The objectives of the study were: to establish effect of the membership in a VSLA, the effect of accumulated savings, the relationship between access to credit from a VSLA, and the effect of credit utilization problem on socio economic empowerment of women in Nwoya District. The study was grounded on the social capital theory (Pierre, 1930) and the theory of trust (Fukuyama, 1995).Across sectional survey design based on quantitative and qualitative approaches was used. The study population consisted of 175 VSLA members, 12 parish chiefs, 10 VSLA trainers and 8 sub-county technical and political leaders, who were purposively and randomly selected. Questionnaire survey, interview, FGDs and observation were the data collection methods used. Validity and reliability of the study instruments were ensured through expert judgment and Cronbach’ alpha analysis respectively. Both descriptive and inferential statistical analyses were carried out. The study found out that members were able to live better lives because of VSLAs, all members had savings which helped them during moments of need, the group members had access to credits from the VSLAs and there existed interferences with members’ savings/credit. It was concluded that if members continued to be VSLAs, had savings, accessed credits and credit utilization problems were solved, socioeconomic empowerment of women would be achieved. The researcher recommended that: there is need for more women to join or form VSLAs, need to keep savings safe, need to undertake financial training and control/manage credits well. The role of the local governments in poverty reduction could also be explored.