Matrida is a new client in our Kasungu branch. She is on her second loan cycle, taking out a MKW 50,000 loan. Matrida cares for five children in her household, with ages ranging from three to 14 years. She is married and a total of seven people are financially dependent on her. Like many women, she left school and married at a young age, and she had her first child when she was 16. Her husband is not working and their only means of survival was through local farming and sale of their harvest. This was not enough to provide three meals a day. Sometimes her husband could find piece work as a watchman, but still they could not get by. The couple decided to sell all the maize they harvested in 2015-16, which made it even more difficult to feed the family. They decided to start a small grocery business but it did not do well.
Matrida heard about MLF when our LTO came to inform the community about our services, and she decided to join the group through our partnership with the Wildlife and Environment Society of Malawi (WESM). The grocery business that she runs is now stable and she knows it is making a profit of MKW 8,000 per week, whereas before she lacked the knowledge to calculate profits. She now has enough stock, and Matrida makes sure that the profits are used to support daily household needs, to support her old mother, and to buy books and school uniforms her the children. She was also able to buy two goats and fertiliser for her maize garden which helped increase yields and improve the family’s food security.
The most important lessons Matrida learned from the MLF training was how to create a business plan and do market research, and how to calculate profits. In the future she wants to diversify the stock in her grocery business, and build a permanent structure so that she does not have to store the stock at her house every night. She hopes she will be able to support her children’s education to a high level so they do not have to live in poverty. What she appreciates most about MLF’s services are the fair interest rates, the ongoing training, and the fact that there are no huge loan fees which means it is accessible to the poorest people.
Before joining MLF Matrida’s friends warned her that she might get arrested if she could not repay her loan as the size of her business was very small at the time. Now they admire her for what she has achieved, and others are planning to join MLF too. She no longer has to beg, and instead people ask her for help and advice. Matrida tells us she is respected because her children are looking clean and healthy now, whereas before they would be very dirty as she could not always afford soap. She is happy that the relationship with her husband is much better now that she does not have to ask him for money anymore. She supports him and is involved in household decision making, while he helps run the business by going out to buy stock for the shop.