8 March 2024 marks International Women’s Day. We celebrate the achievements of women in Malawi.

The story of Chimwemwe Village Savings and Loans (VSLA) in Nsalule village, T/A Katuli, Malawi illustrates the profound impact empowered women in rural areas can have on community development, particularly when equipped with financial literacy and opportunities. Titukulane’s strategic initiatives focus on empowering women economically, primarily through VSLA capacity building and comprehensive financial training. Loveness lness, the Chairlady of the group, has been at the forefront, articulating the transformative journey the group has embarked upon since Titukulane’s intervention.

…the profound impact empowered women in rural areas can have on community development, particularly when equipped with financial literacy and opportunities…

Initially comprising 43 members and operating with interest-free loans, the group’s dynamics shifted with the introduction of Titukulane’s VSLA methodology. After receiving training in Economic Activity Selection Planning and Management (EASPM), the group ventured into soya farming with guidance from Titukulane’s agriculture field officers. The group also benefited from the seed voucher program launched by the Titukulane project in 2022 , facilitating access to crucial resources on cost-sharing basis. The farmers contributed 30% of the seed price, while the project covered the remaining 70%.

As a direct outcome of this program and the EASPM training, the Chimwemwe VSLA group successfully secured 16 kg of seed, enabling them to cultivate their fields. Despite navigating through challenging market conditions characterized by declining prices for the soya crop, their collective efforts yielded a harvest valued at MK375,000 (£175). This substantial return stands as a testament to the efficacy and impact of the seed voucher program, empowering farmers to generate impressive yields and secure their livelihoods amidst market adversities.

The impact of Titukulane’s interventions extended beyond the group’s success to individual households. Members expressed gratitude for the project, emphasizing remarkable household improvements. “We bought vouchers using our savings and loans. Fair pricing helped us generate more profits, which we saved for our household goals. It brought personal change to my home,” elaborated Loveness. Through the VSLA, members channelled their savings and obtained loans for various endeavours, including purchasing livestock, funding their children’s education, and investing in agricultural productivity.

Remarkably, the positive transformation spurred by the VSLA was not limited to the women themselves. Husbands also recognized and acknowledged the benefits of the VSLA, actively supporting their wives’ involvement. The newfound financial independence and knowledge gained through the VSLA training instilled confidence and resilience among the women, fostering a determination to sustain the initiative even after the phase-out of the Titukulane project. This collective commitment signifies not just a short-term impact but a sustainable pathway towards long-term empowerment and economic stability for these rural communities.

International Women’s Day: VSLA initiatives leads to Community Development
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