By: Aubrey Bunguzu
Women in Malawi are the most vulnerable groups of people. By virtue of being a woman, Malawian societies regard females as powerless, isolated, and uncommunicative in nature, so that very few can develop. The powerlessness comes in due to illiteracy, unemployment, hence low income which is the poverty manifestation among women. Story of poverty can continue be narrated if ever women have little or no access to income generating programs.
Lutheran Hour Ministry, through its Women Empowerment Program strives to assist poor women and girls to seal this economic gap that exists among them. The program issues the seed money to the most vulnerable women and young girls to finance small scale businesses, as to improve the life.
During monitoring exercise, the ministry staff found that more than half of the program beneficiaries experience positive change in their household economy. Two of the women beneficiaries narrate their success stories to the ministry staff.
Betina Sande, aged 24, is a young woman who is physically challenged, as she moves on crawling since she does not own any walking aid.
Living at Lameke village in Mchinji District, Betina is single, and cares for two siblings whose parents passed on due to AIDS attack.
“My life was difficult before I received the seed money from the ministry people.” Betina starts her story.
“Imagine how we stayed with these children here without anything supporting our lives? I do not need to tell everything since you know what I mean by that.” Her face showed the touch on the previous experiences.
After getting MK 15,000.00 as starter pack, Betina invested it in her small business which market tomatoes, onions and dried fish.
She wakes up as early as 3 am. “I hire a bicycle to collect goods supplies from the nearby market places, and use the same money to pay for transport services of my goods.” Reports Betina.
Betina said on good day she makes revenue ranging from MK 4,000.00 to MK 5,000.00. The development has changed her family. For example, “I am able to feed, send my siblings to school, buy clothes, meanwhile have planned to buy a goat.”
“I will not die with hunger.” Ends her story.
As if this is not enough, Chrissy Sandifolo is another business woman who noticed economic development in her family after getting and using the seed money third time.
“I first ventured into marketing second hand clothes. While this kept on improving, the proceeds were invested into another portfolio product, such as groceries, and benefits boosted up.” Reported Chrissy.
Using the business proceeds, she supports her two children in high school education, another two in primary school education.
“I have even reroofed my house with corrugated iron sheets, and we are living in the house that does not leak in rainy seasons than it was before.” Happily, Chrissy expresses her experience.
Commenting on what women are experiencing in the program, Village headman Lameke thanked the LHM-Malawi, and those that pray for the program for making differences in women lives.
“You have trained women in establishing and conducting small businesses. I hope they will use and die with the knowledge and skills.” Comments Village headman.
He concluded the remarks by saying a proverb: ‘do not give them fish, give them a hook to fish they will sustain.’ The seed money could not yield anything alone. Training in business skills plus the seed money makes the program a success.