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Over the years, WWF Tanzania has been setting up and mentoring a number of Village Community Banks (VICOBA) across coastal southern Tanzania, following a specific grass root-based Microfinance and Development Model.

VICOBA operates within a holistic approach, supporting a community’s own capacity building, and is one of the key income bases especially for rural communities, forming an effective and sustainable development strategy. Due to its unique structure, the VICOBA saving and lending model has proven to be a successful approach to support financially family grassroot level income generationg activities based in rural communities in developing countries.
In 2022 WWF Tanzania, with support from the blue action fund (BAF) supported 13 villages in the Mafia Island Marine Park (MIMP) to carry out a needs-assessment for livelihood training, create awareness and build new groups to strengthen the local livelihoods and wellbeing of small scale fisheries communities.
Why Village Community Banks (VICOBA)?
  • Allows communities in rural and coastal areas to access financial services like loans and savings;
  • Reduces high pressures on fishing by learning of new Income Generating Activities in order to widen economic base and  income sources;
  • They can support the coastal communities to establish various micro-businesses including shops, food vendors, fishmongers, livestock keeping and beekeeping. 
Over the past 2 years WWF Tanzania through BAF funding has trained 12  Community-Based Trainers and 2 Marine Park staff in developing VICOBAs and from these efforts, have established over 50 new VICOBA groups (benefitting over 1,400 local members) in the Marine Park.
These local members of the VICOBAs set up in the marine park have diversified their income sources, and set up various small enterprises, some of the beneficiaries are shown below:
A further development in the VICOBAs has been the introduction of an App called: CHOMOKA.  This mobile phone application is a digital ledger for the savings groups and provides real-time accurate and quality data and information submitted directly during groups’ meetings. It improves the VICOBA groups' information management, hence reduces the cases of fraud, and double standards when dealing with loan repayments, fines, and contributions.
It also provides feedback to group members via text massages immediately once meetings are closed. This information will be used as a verification means in case there is an error in record keeping.
It also supports the reporting of data patterns that were not available due to means of collections, for example, groups' cycles status, dividends among members, dissolved groups, members who drop out, and new members joining in-between the loan cycles.
It also provides monitoring support using data, which enables technical teams to narrow down their support into specific issues to a specific group.
Overall the VICOBA savings actions carried out by WWF Tanzania will help support local livelihoods and also diversify the income of the local coastal community and reduce pressure on marine resources.
© James Golola
A VICOBA member who has chosen to invest on livestock