In countries like Malawi that are prone to extreme weather and where agriculture is the main source of income for 80 percent of the population, training smallholder farmers in conservation agriculture methods and teaching them new ways to generate income helps ensure they are better equipped to journey to income stability.
In July 2020, Maureen joined a Village Savings and Loan (VSL) training group in Thanzi n’chuma, Malawi, through World Renew. She and the other participants formed a Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) that met once a week to pool their savings. Maureen says, “After receiving training, I joined the VSLA and started saving money for the future.”
The VSLA meetings also provided a space where the members of the group (60 females and 1 male) received training in small business management, conservation agriculture, proper health and nutrition practices, and more. And, they were able to access low-interest loans from their savings pool to pay off debt or to invest in their farms and small businesses. Maureen shares, “I borrowed some money from the VSL group to buy pigs for rearing, adding to chickens that I already had.”
From the money she earned from the sale of some of her pigs, Maureen built an electricity generator for her home.
“After contributing monthly to the savings pool for almost a year, I was able to withdraw a share of about $110 US which I used to buy solar panels, a battery, and a generator.”
She says, “After contributing monthly to the savings pool for almost a year, I was able to withdraw a share of about $110 US which I used to buy solar panels, a battery, and a generator.” Many of Maureen’s neighbors do not have easy access to power to charge their cell phones. She has now started a cell phone charging service that allows her to earn additional income.