FZS is helping establish Community Conservation Banks (COCOBAs), a savings and banking loans model that aims to reduce pressure on natural resources and provide economic opportunities. COCOBAs allow members to access loans to establish conservation-friendly businesses, such as beekeeping, chicken farming, and tree planting. FZS supports and facilitates the marketing and business development for members across several districts surrounding Serengeti National Park.
15 to 30 community members from within the village meet weekly and contribute to a common bank, from which they are later able to take out low-interest loans to support conservation-friendly (or neutral) income-generating activities. Further supporting the conservation aspect of this enterprise, many of the groups so far established consist entirely of former illegal bushmeat hunters who have agreed to stop poaching wildlife and are looking for alternative livelihood options.
The effectiveness of the COCOBA scheme is due to its emphasis on elements of self-help initiatives, community capacity building and local resources mobilization, community project ownership, and joint management. The banks themselves are long-lasting and sustainable and have been very successful so far. FZS is implementing a Training of Trainers approach to build expert capacity within the district and village levels.
A few examples of businesses the members of COCOBA have started with their loans: beekeeping/honey production, tailoring, chicken farming.
FZS is also in the process of supporting COCOBA groups regarding access to local and international markets by improved marketing and products quality and quantity.