Giving women in Malawi financial freedom through village savings
Joining a village savings and loans group called "Buyu" has made Malawian women achieve things they had never even dreamed of. Their lives have improved significantly and they are now positive about the future for themselves and their families.
Since she was a little girl Elizabeth Lughali, 32, dreamed of sleeping in a real bed with a mattress. Today her dream has come true; she has managed to save enough money to buy a bed, a mattress and some nice linen through a DanChurchAid supported village savings and loans project.
“I joined Buyu savings club last year and saved enough to buy the bed and a plot of land. In total, I got K41,300,” says Elizabeth.
“I didn’t have any money when I joined the group. I had tried to borrow from friends but most of the time I had problems repaying as the sums were too small to make any meaningful profit,” she explains.
A successful baking business
Buyu Club has 26 members who are all women. All the members in the savings club are involved in small businesses that range from farming to buying and selling of agricultural produce and fish.
However, Elizabeth has chosen to go a different route from others by venturing into baking, “Since I joined the savings club, I have been engaged in baking scones, which I sell at our local primary school. The kids love my scones and I am always under pressure because of the demand,” she says.
“In addition to buying the bed, mattress and linen, the business has enabled me to feed my children and to pay for their school fees” Elizabeth explains.
Like Elizabeth, many women who are members of Buyu Savings Club have seen their lives change for the better. Some have achieved things, which they never dreamed of before joining the club.
A bull to help in the fields
One of them is 34 year old Ruth Msiswa. “When I joined the group I only wanted small capital for my farming business,” she says and adds, “but when I saw how my friends were progressing my ambition grew.”
Ruth, who is now an established tomato and vegetable farmer, first got a loan of K20,000 from the savings club and bought farming inputs such as seeds and fertiliser.
Her harvest was good and she made a profit margin of K25,000, which she invested in her business by buying another piece of land.
“With the growth of my business, also came the demand for more labour,” she says. “And that’s when I started to think of buying a cow for draught power,” Ruth explains.
In December, the group shared their money and profits and Ruth got K41,000. She topped up the amount with K4,000 and bought a bull in order to reduce the labour demands on her growing farming business.
“I am planning to save for another cow this year,” she says. “I just keep my fingers crossed that we continue having good rains.”
Used to have problems paying school fees
At 52, Lily Chiume, another member from Buyu savings club, has defied her age to venture into business and with some success. Lily now buys maize from the village and sells it in surrounding markets.
“I used to have problems paying school fees for my children but that is now a thing from the past,” she says. “I can easily go to our club and get a loan, which I repay after selling my goods.”
In December, Lily got K40,000, an amount she says she had never laid her hands upon all her life, “The savings club has made me achieve great things. I have bought a goat and I am planning to buy more in the future from my savings.”
By Joseph Scott, Communications Officer, DCA Malawi