Digital solutions scale the impact of VSLA on smallholder women farmers

The Mobis app application with a VSLA management platform


Nyek Pi Lonyi is a 34-member women-dominated smallholder village saving and loan association group in Northern Uganda’s Lamwo district. Nyek Pi Lonyi is a phrase among Luo-speaking Nilotic people in Uganda which is literary jealous is not wealth.

Composed of 26 women and eight men, the Nyek Pi Lonyi group used the slogan to motivate and remind members that being envious of other people is not an option, but hard work. Thus, the members teamed up to increase production and boost market opportunities. The digitalization of their operations under the Livelihoods Initiative for West Nile and Acholi (LEWA) project has provided members with a safe place to save and access their money, increasing their production and saving capacity.

Funded by the European Union through the Office of the Prime Minister under the Development Initiative for Northern Uganda (DINU) program, the project was implemented by four partners led by the Lutheran World Federation Uganda. Others include; Dan Church Aid (DCA), Uganda Pentecostal Medical Bureau (UPMB) and a private sector company- Mukwano Group of Industries.

Kennedy Oyaa, the group secretary explaining how the application works


“This Mobis app is an android-based smartphone application with a VSLA management platform,” Kennedy Oyaa, the group secretary, explains as he scrolls through the Mobis app on the smartphone.

The application automates our recordkeeping needs like the savings and loans,” Oyaa says this has made it easy, especially for their female members without a bank account to get loans and hence financial inclusion.

The clear financial track record, Oyaa says, created healthy competition among members, which has more than doubled their productivity from Shs2,600,000 (about € 6615) annual turnover in 2019 when the group started to (about €1527) in 2022.The group says they were already growing sunflowers and soybeans when the project improved with business skills development and incubation services such as financial literacy, record keeping, and business action planning. 

Members of Nyek Pi Lonyi group harvesting sunflower from one of their gardens in Lamwo district


“Digitalization has helped us to put all this knowledge in practice using the digital app,” Mr Oyaa says, “each can ably secure loans banks and microfinance to secure loans because our financial records are traceable.”

Internally, the members also conduct the lending process to trace their transactions and provide a track record for each woman, indicating their reliability and trust. Digital records like group attendance are also used by the members as a trust score and attract an attractive prospect for lenders.