A Village Community Bank (VICOBA) is a group of women who join forces to enable each other to become economically independent by running small businesses. A VICOBA group usually consists of 30 women that live in the same area.
WEECE always organizes a kick-off meeting for interested women where the program is presented. Interested women can subscribe if they want to participate. The VICOBA group itself is divided into smaller units which are called magnets. In every magnet the members guarantee for each other. The magnet groups have to form themselves. Every Vicoba group agrees on their own standards, sets the value of their shares and defines a maximum amount of shares to ensure equality within the group. All members of VICOBA group have equal power to participate in policy-making and operational planning for their village community bank. The following key positions exist in every group: chairperson, secretary, treasurer, discipline master, two money counters and three key holders for the chest.
In regular meetings the women exchange their experiences and manage their funds.
Meetings of the complete group are usually once a month and follow a certain routine, for example:
After welcoming each other and frequently a joint prayer, the women speak their VICOBA oath. Then the chest is being opened and the attendance of the women is noted.
The next step is that women make repayments on already taken loans. The money stays on the table. Then, they can buy new shares – this money stays on the table as well. Every group member has her own VICOBA book in which shares and loans are noted. However, the value of a share cannot be found in this book so that only group members know how much money a member has. At the same time everything is written in the group books that are kept in the chest.
After the phases of loan repayment and buying of shares the total amount of money on the table is announced. Now loans are offered according to the applicant’s need and credibility. Credibility is evaluated by other group members, based on the individual’s reputation in the community. At the end of the meeting ideally all the money is given out as a loan and the books go back into the chest.
The women end the formal meeting with a prayer and maybe a song and then use more time to exchange their experiences.