Everyone who shops at Kasese Trading Post knows Goodwell Chimwanza, the tinsmith. He is always smiling; hard at work.
No-Interest Loans for Women in Malawi
Gender and Financial Disparities in Malawi
Despite the 1995 Malawi Constitution guaranteeing equal rights to men and women, gender disparities persevere. About 30% of households in Malawi are headed by women. However, women still lag behind in financial freedom. This means that without a partner’s support, female-headed houses are almost always poorer. Women have less access to land, less support in banking, and less time to earn income. Their time is split between domestic responsibilities and income-earning responsibilities.
In 2017, Orant launched our Financial Empowering Microloans for Women (FEM) Program. Its goal is to increase income-making opportunities for women. We offer no-interest loans, business mentorship, and banking training. We started by supporting 13 women participants. Since, our number has increased to 28. By the fall of 2022, we anticipate welcoming another group of 10-20 women.
Edilina Joshua’s Story
At age 59, Edilina Joshua is married with 3 children. She runs a tea room where she sells homemade masikono (scones).
“I was one of the first 13 women supported by the FEM program,” Edilina says. “Before Orant’s support, I took out loans from another organization. They charged an interest rate of 20%. Because of this, after long days of toil, I had nothing to show.”
Orant removes the barrier of impossible interest rates. Our FEM Program provides no-interest loans. We give women four months to pay back their loans in equal installments. Since 2017, all participants have paid back their loans in full.
Edilina’s business prospects were boosted after she joined FEM. As a result, her long-term dreams became achievable. She has used her earnings to send her kids to school, buy fertilizer, renovate her house, purchase a goat, and invest in a refrigerator.
“It was hard to make sales from hot drinks,” she says. “But with a refrigerator, I can sell cold water and soft drinks, too. I’m certain that I will make a lot of money next summer.”
From the proceeds of her most recent loan, Edilina plans to buy more goats and pigs. “I want to be independent,” she says. “Once the FEM program phases out, I hope to be able to support my family from animal production.”
Orant plans on registering the businesses of our FEM members. Registration will give business owners access to bank loans after Orant graduates them.
The Orant Journal
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