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Financial inclusion: unlocking economic empowerment

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18 year old Blessings Nyoni decided to beat all odds by joining a savings group that was dominated by middle aged and elderly women, defying the cultural norms of association that usually haunt many communities in Malawi.

Nyoni stands in front of one of his goat kraal Nyoni stands in front of one of his goat kraal

Nyoni had a vision. He had a goal set for himself. By the end of the year, he had aspired to buy goats and start rearing them. With only K15,000.00, he banked the money into a savings group that is popularly known as “Bank M’mudzi”.

In the first year of his savings, Nyoni managed to come out with savings amounting to K50,000.00 which was used to buy fertilizer, goats and pigs.

“When I first joined this group, many of my friends did not understand why I was associating myself with older women but I had a vision of improving my livelihood. Now, other friends have decided to become a part of this grouping because they can see that we are making progress in enriching our livelihoods,” explained a visibly-happy Nyoni.

Nyoni is not the only one benefitting from these savings in Traditional Authority Mwase in Kasungu under the Chinkhombwe cluster that has 85 groups with 25 members each.

According to Definas Mvula who is the President of these groups under Makwerero Sacco said the savings culture instilled in the people of T/A Mwase has seen an increase in financial inclusion for both men and women.

“We had to advocate for mindset change among men to have them join our groups because many of them thought this was for women only. Many of them joined when they realised that we were making gains and improving our financial status,” said Mvula.

Chirwa stands next to her goat loafing shed

Molesi Chirwa, one of the members, proudly displays her achievements and applauds the Makwerero Sacco under the Malawi Union of Savings and Credit Co-operatives – MUSCCO for the initiative to give people from the rural areas a chance of saving their money through such groups.

“I thought this was not going to be possible when I first ventured into buying shares and banking my money with Sacco. I have heard of fraudulent individuals in some of these groups who usually run away with members’ money but that has not been the case with our group. Everyone is accountable and dedicated to making this thing work,” said Banda.

MUSCCO has mobilized people under what they call “Study Groups” to teach them ways on how they can save, borrow and buy shares in these groups to realise profit.

GVH Kasale: We are making a difference for ourselves 

Group Village Headwoman Kasale, in Traditional Authority Kwataine in Ntcheu district is one of the people benefitting a lot in the quest to build and achieve finance independence for her and her subjects. She says she believes men and women in her village take keen interest in saving money for development.

“The money we save and the loans we get from this group have changed our lives for the better. We now have better houses and furniture and we are able to send our children to school. That, to us, means progress,” beamed GVH Kasale.

Financial inclusion through SACCOs under MUSCCO has contributed a lot to the improvement of people’s lives and has provided people in the villages with important financial resources and economic empowerment.

Malawi Lake Basin Consortium which has various orhanisations including MUSCCO under its umbrella is implementing such study circle projects in Kasungu, Salima, Mangochi and Ntcheu districts to achieve financial inclusion, business and marketing and organizational development.

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