By Elizabeth Adéwalé, CARE Niger
Bassi, a couscous made from millet, is very popular across Niger.
In the village of Tamroro, the women of a local savings group, process millet into bassi, providing them with income as well as helping to feed their village.
Operating out of their “factory,” a small compound in the center of the village, the 132 women who make up the network work together to process the millet grown on their farm just outside of town. The younger women are responsible for pounding and grinding the millet, while the older women take charge of the processing.
Initially the women were grinding the millet by hand, a long and arduous task that didn’t produce enough bassi for their needs. They needed a grinding machine – and not just any machine but one that would enable them to grind on a larger scale. With training from CARE, the women developed their skills and approached a program who agreed to fund the purchase of a grinding machine. Not only are the women now producing more bassi in less time, they have also increased their profits.
“We are producing more bassi for our community,” says Ramatou Hassane, the network’s president, “our work has been so profitable, we were able to buy a cart to carry women to the village health center.”
In the past, women in Tamroro lacked a voice and were not regarded as decision makers. The savings group network has broken down those barriers, helping women develop their skills and make a lasting contribution to their community.
In addition to building the skills of the women, the savings group enables them to manage their savings and loans network, CARE also provides them training in income generating activities, leadership skills and literacy.
CARE launched the first ever Savings group in Niger in 1991. Since then, groups across Niger have helped women, men, girls, and boys fight poverty and develop income generating activities. Members make weekly contributions to a collective savings fund that is then made available as loans to individual members to help them build their business activities. Most of the groups established with assistance from CARE are made up entirely of women.