A Mothers' Union project which teaches financial literacy and savings was started in Karonga, Northern Malawi, about a year ago. Women across the country have been trained in financial literacy that they can then extend to their community.
A group from Birmingham Mothers' Union visited this project when they went over to Malawi in May. Jackie Brocklebank, Mothers' Union Diocesan President, Hugh Brocklebank, Sally Cox and Judith Grubb all met Harriet, who supports 13 groups in Karonga. Each group organises themselves to ensure that the scheme is fair and audited.
Small communities in very poor rural areas are working cooperatively to pool their resources and save and lend money to improve their lives. The money saved provides loans which people have used to buy, for example, bicycles, tools, seeds, goats, cement, iron sheets. Part of the savings is used for an emergency fund to help in crisis, this had been used in one instance for funeral expenses.
Bester Thindwa, Mothers' Union Community Development Coordinator, is an important driving force ensuring that these groups stay motivated and informed of good farming practice, including crop diversification and using animal manure, as these people depend on this for their survival. Through doing this people can sell the surplus at market to supplement their income.
Bester is doing a fabulous job, the distances she covers are vast with no transport of her own. It took them four hours by car to reach the groups, with the last part of the journey being on foot along rough tracks. Her support is valued highly and this was shown by a gift of a huge sack of rice which they could barely afford.
Sally Cox said: "We were humbled by the fantastic welcome we got and by the resilience, eagerness to learn and adaptability. News is travelling fast of the success's these groups are having, which in turn is enabling more communities to support themselves."