Charity Taoneratu is a 32-year-old from Kabenu Village, in TA Chilooko, Ntchisi. She is married and has three children.
Charity, just like many other women in Malawi, has been subjected to different types of abuse from their husbands, perpetuated by cultural and social customs. In most instances, husbands may or may not provide support, most of times leaving the full responsibility to women. This has forced many children to drop out of school and engage in child labour to survive, as women alone wouldn’t be able to support their daily and educational needs.
Life was becoming harder day after day for her, with little hope for the future.
The impact of Village Savings and Loans Association
In 2019, she joined a group of women to discuss issues that affect their lives, without knowing that it would later become a VSLA (Village Savings and Loans Association). “The coming in of this project was a relief to me and my fellow members of the Msambaimfa mother group”, she explained.
It immediately changed how things were managed, namely having a group constitution, welfare fund, record keeping and other important aspects. Members of the group started making significant savings and accessed loans that helped them build small businesses.
“We no longer meet as an ordinary group but as a vibrant Village Savings and Loans Association”, continued Charity. The community VSLA awareness and mobilization meetings conducted by VSLA agents focused on encouraging women to form or join VSLA groups for them to be able to have access to soft loans and to support their households.
Creating new opportunities
Charity already felt lucky enough to be trained in tailoring in the past but unfortunately, she was unable to continue with her tailoring business due to lack of capital. Throught the VSLA, she obtained a loan from to buy the necessary materials and started her tailoring business again. She not only made enough money with her business but she also was able to save some money to buy a pig, which later had 3 piglets. “I am excited that at last I have an opportunity to raise a pig of my own which will in turn support my family”, she explained.
Apart from raising pigs, she is also doing horticultural business and other agro-based produce. She has bought herself chickens and has been able to have enough money to buy household necessities. She has also been buying fertilizers for her garden, a thing she has been struggling to manage in the past.
“In the future I want to build a very big house for my family, buy a motorcycle to ease mobility challenges and start making savings to support my children’s school fees in 2 years’ time”, she concluded with a brave smile on her face.