News / Africa

'Village Banking' Empowers Poor Malawi Women

Malawian women, (File photo).
Malawian women, (File photo).
Lameck Masina
A Malawian women empowerment NGO known as the Center for Alternatives for Victimized Women and Children has been working to help poor, widowed and abused women become economically independent through village savings and loans programs. 

According to NGO officials, under the initiative, known as village banking, the women are encouraged to form groups of between 15 and 25 people to contribute an agreed upon amount of money weekly to buy shares.

 “We encourage each member in that group to borrow the money [to start a business of her choice]. There is no collateral because they know each other and we even don’t impose interest on them," explained Hlazulani Malumbo Ziba, the NGO facilitator in the southern district of Chiradzulu, one of the areas where the project is being implemented.

"They decide themselves what type of interest percentage each member should be giving after borrowing the money," he added.

Ziba said the interest charged is later added on to the amount of money an individual member receives during the time of sharing the money, which is saved throughout the year.

“We promote that the interest should be of the individual member who is borrowing because we wanted them to participate in the borrowing, because through the borrowing money will be increasing at the end of the day,” he noted.

According to Ziba, more than 5,000 women from 81 villages have benefited from the program, which began in 2010.

Eunice Victory is the coordinator of a savings and loans project in areas surrounding Chingoli village. A widowed mother of two, Victory said she joined the program in 2011 because she was living in poverty following the death of her husband and had no means of paying her children's school fees.

“The very first day I joined the group I borrowed about MK10,000 which I used to start a business of selling fritters because at first I had nothing to do," she explained. "Now I am able to find simple things that I was missing and also I am able to find all the basic needs in life. For example, I have been able to build a house, which you see here.”

She also said through the program she has managed to pay school fees for her two daughters, one of whom is pursuing medical studies.

The program, however, has faced challenges.

Maxwell Kaliati, programs manager at the program's head office in Blantyre, said one challenge is keeping the money safe, especially when it is being collected, because it is not kept in commercial banks.

“Despite that, we encourage people that when they save, they should borrow immediately; sometimes they have the money which remains with them in the cash box, so there are fears the thieves would come into their homes and rob them of their monies," Kaliati said. "Although we haven’t seen such a robbery case, this is the challenge.”

He added that to address the challenges, a meeting with police officials from surrounding areas is being arranged so the two sides can develop a working relationship and deter potential thieves.

You May Like

US Firms Concerned About China's New Cyber Regulations

New rules would require technology companies doing business in financial sector to hand over their source code, adopt Chinese encryption algorithms More

WHO Focus on Ebola Shifts to Ending Outbreak

Focus to be less on building facilities and more on efforts to find infected people, manage their cases, engage with communities and ensure proper burials More

US Scientist Who Conceived of Groundbreaking Laser Technology Dies

Charles Townes, Nobel laureate, laser co-creator paved way for other scientific discoveries: CDs, eye surgery, metal cutters to name a few technologies that rely on lasers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Webi
X
January 29, 2015 9:58 AM
Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video As Ground Shifts, Obama Reviews Middle East Strategy

The death of Saudi Arabia’s king, the collapse of a U.S.-friendly government in Yemen and a problematic relationship with Israel’s leadership are presenting a new set of complications for the Obama administration and its Middle East policy. Not only is the U.S. leader dealing with adversaries in Iran, the Islamic State and al-Qaida, but he is now juggling trouble with traditional allies, as White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid