“When our facilitator told us that as a group we can start bank mkhonde – Village Savings Loans Association- and start getting loans for small scale businesses I saw that as an opportunity to change my life forever…”
Idah Thawale is an 18-year-old girl from Chikondi Girls club in Zulu Mchinji, Malawi. She comes from a family of small scale farmers. Idah and her family have been struggling to meet their financial needs. For Idah sanitary pads and clothes were often unaffordable. Things started changing however, when the MTBA project started in her community. A facilitator at the Girls Club introduced Idah to the concept of Village Savings Loans Association (VSLA) and she immediately wanted to participate.
Since the VSLA was new she did not manage to get the loan from the group. Instead her parents, who supported her business idea, gave her a startup loan of MK14,000 which she invested in a business of selling laundry soap popularly known as “Surf”.
“…. I get a profit of about MK7,000 a week in good periods and about MK4,000 when business is not very good, I save this money in our VSLA and use some for my personal needs. I no longer need a man to buy me these personal needs…” narrated a smiling Idah.
Currently Idah has invested some of her profits in farming. She has one acre of groundnuts and a half acre of Soya bean. Idah further said she has about MK25,000 in her saving account at the VSLA.
Idah attributed her success in the business to the Financial Education training she has been getting from her Club through the MTBA project. She said through the training sessions which are given to them, she has learnt how to come up with a savings goal, the importance of saving and how to open an account. Idah plans to open an account when her savings and business have grown. She further said that she is planning to buy livestock (goats and pigs) because she sees a market for it in the area. According to the facilitator and the mentor of the center, Idah is among the most hard working girls in the Club and takes on a role of peer to peer mentorship to support her fellow girls who have just started their own small scale businesses. “Economically empowered girls like Idah cannot be tempted to get into marriage as they are financially stable” she says. Idah’s parents have been supportive to their daughter and currently they also benefit from Ida’s business. This cannot make them push Idah into marriage’.