Community Credit and Savings Association (CoCSA) is a group formed at community level to reduce poverty by financially and socially empowering poor and vulnerable people mostly women. CoCSA is a self-managed group that does not receive any external funding.

It provides opportunity for members to access loan to cover expenses such as school fees, medical bills without selling productive assets, or they can use the loan to invest in income generating activities to raise household income.

Subscription is determined by the group members and it operates with a metallic cash box where important records and any unlent monies are kept. The box is opened and locked in the meeting only before all group members to enforce transparency and accountability. There are now 62 CoCSAs in two districts within FoRUT operational communities

FoRUT provide training and supervisory role to the group to ensure their documentations are well organized and kept safe in case of enquiry by members. The organization also provides metallic box for the safe keeping of their money

Mosanda is a small community in the Moyamba district whose main economic activity is farming and petty trading as major source of their livelihood. But they have little or no access to neither loan facilities nor business skills to expand on their businesses.

The Community Bank (CB) in the chiefdom headquarter town is distant from this community. Members of this community cannot cope with the formal, lengthy, and complicated procedures backed by collateral to access bank loan.

With the introduction of CoCSA Madam Hawa Hassan Kamara revealed to FoRUT that at a critical moment when her son was to take exams in teacher training college and she didn’t have money to pay fees, she was able to secure loan from CoCSA  to help her son.

Madam Hawa thanked FoRUT for bringing such initiative to their community and encourages other members to join the scheme.  This has ignited other community members to form another CoCSA within the same community.

FoRUT staff used to share CoCSA dividend at the end of every circle; as a result of effective trainings of the management committee, they now manage the group and share dividends at the end of the circle amicably without FoRUT presence. This ensures continuity after organization’s exit. Because of the strict CoCSA procedures and the immediate and tangible results, the CoCSA methodology has stimulated people to engage in income generating activities to join the scheme.

The significance of this story is that COCSA scheme has provided ready cash for community people which they can access as and when necessary to address their socio economic challenges. It has also restored the dignity and respect of women in their communities as they are able to contribute to household expenses through their savings contributions and loan from the group.