Alice’s first visit to Malawi

 By Alice McDonnell, Fundraising Manager – MicroLoan Foundation

Last week, I had the amazing opportunity to visit MicroLoan’s work in Malawi for the first time. It was an insightful trip, and was really inspiring to meet some of the enterprising women we work with. It was also interesting to see the challenging context in which our Malawian staff work; primarily the unreliable water and electricity supplies, and the poor road network that makes travelling to our clients in remote locations particularly testing.

After a long journey, I arrived in Kasungu (a small town, two hours from the capital, where MicroLoan’s Malawian Head Office is situated) tired, but excited for the week ahead. From the moment I stepped foot on Malawian soil, the friendliness of the Malawian people was evident. I could see straight away why it’s dubbed “the warm heart of Africa”.

After a couple of days at Head Office meeting some of our brilliant staff, I had the opportunity to travel into the very rural areas we work, and visit groups of women that MicroLoan supports there . The welcome I received from the groups of women I visited was overwhelming; songs, dances and handshakes galore. And as I heard from them about how MicroLoan’s support is transforming their lives, I really got to understand their enthusiasm and joy.

One of the women I met was Malita, who has been supported by MicroLoan for several years. The very bumpy, dusty drive out to where Malita and the rest of her group (Talowa Credit Group, left) live and meet, was almost an hour. It really was incredibly remote, and demonstrated how far our Loan Officers travel every day to reach the poorest women in the most rural areas and deliver life-changing loans and training. With MicroLoan’s support and a succession of small loans (her most recent loan was £85), Malita has established and grown a successful business selling tomatoes and fish. The profits she makes from this business have enabled her to send all four of her children to secondary school. In fact, one of her children is even re-taking secondary school to improve his grades. She tells me that this would never have been possible if she hadn’t been supported by MicroLoan to set up her business. As Malita has developed her business and her profits have increased, she has saved enough money to buy a bed and mattress, which saves her from sleeping on the hard floor, like so many of the other women I met. She has even purchased a bicycle, which makes travelling to market to sell her goods much easier and more time-efficient. Malita has clearly learnt a huge amount from MicroLoan’s training on developing her business and diversifying, and she plans to start buying a selling more expensive products to increase her profits further. Like so many of the women I met, Malita is driven by her want to provide for her family, particularly her desire for her children to have good prospects, and to live a life free from poverty and insecurity.

You can help us support more women like Malita and her family, bydonating now.