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

In China, Mixed Signals on Ebola Controls

How authorities are monitoring at-risk individuals remains unclear, including whether there are quarantines for Chinese health workers returning from West Africa More

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Electionsi
X
October 31, 2014 4:10 AM
Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid