We’ve been busy over the last few months working on some fantastic projects that you can become involved in, and we would appreciate your help. We will let you know how below.
— LATEST NEWS & EVENTS —
It’s just like clockwork isn’t it? Here we are again, well into the first quarter of another financial year. One offering numerous opportunities for those of us fortunate enough to live in the developed world, and especially in countries like Australia, spare a thought for Lydia Munyama, pictured above, of Mwaiwathu Village, close to our regional lending office in Mulanje, Southern Malawi.
Mulanje is in the heart of the tea growing area adjacent to Mozambique and beneath the majestic Mount Mulanje. Tea picking has been the traditional means of employment and indeed the tea estates places of residence of a large number of the local population in this beautiful area.
When I left Malawi in 1975 one Malawi Kwacha (MWK) was worth approximately $1.10 Australian. As an illustration of how things have changed by 2011 $1 would cost MWK156 and today MWK372.
I draw your attention to these figures to illustrate how the rampant inflation has affected the beautiful citizens of this lovely landlocked country, and I’m using Lydia an example to illustrate the power that every $50 Gift has.
The numbers for the year
On June 30 we transferred $11,847.62 to our Malawi office giving us the following statistics as at 30 June 2014:
Funds transferred during the year $22,933
No. of loans dispensed for the year 2146
Value of loans disbursed $175,630
Value of loans in place $105,176
Average loan value $82 – has increased due to funding demands placed by the depreciation of Malawi Kwacha and inflation
Repayment rate 99.8%
The Mwaiwathu (“our fortune”) group was one of the first credit groups established in the Mulanje district. When the district branch was opening, one of the loan officers came to the Nkando trading centre, which is the largest in the district, for an information meeting. These ten women got together and formed the group.Even though there are several other lending organizations in the area, MicroLoan was the first to establish a presence. The good reputation that MLF has, along with the positive experiences these women have had with their loans keep the women loyal to MicroLoan.
There are two other MicroLoan groups in the Nkando village – they formed when they saw the successes that the women in the Mwaiwathu group were having. They have a variety of businesses, including selling fish, donuts, and chickens and running shops in the trading centre. While they had the businesses before taking the loan, they have been able to increase the size and through the training, “we have been able to develop our businesses.”
The women very much admire what MicroLoan Foundation does, and others in their village want to join because they have seen how successful these women have been.
Let’s look closer at a couple of members of the Mwaiwathu group, firstly Lydia.
Lydia has been a member of the Mwaiwathu (“our fortune”) group since it formed in 2011, taking loans for her doughnut business. She uses the loan to buy baking flour, sugar, yeast, cooking oil and firewood – all the necessary items to run her business. Because of the loan, she is able to make the doughnuts more often and increase the yield of each production, resulting in higher profits.With her profits, she is able to hire people to help her with her farm. She wants to increase the size of her business, including being able to buy the whole 50kg bag of flour (twice what she buys now) so she can make and sell more doughnuts.
“At first I used to do business without saving anything, but now I know how to save, which helps me expand my business and make my life better.” She is able to use the money from her profits to help pay for daily needs for herself and her two grown sons who still live with her.
You may like to know more about our average clients
Our average client is around 37 years old: has 4 dependents (including, around half the time, at least one orphan). She may go through a number of loan cycles, but she will borrow Malawi Kwacha14,000 (or $50 in 2014) at any one time, but then has also managed to make savings of $10-20.Her business is likely to be one of the Top 5 most popular enterprises being (1) selling fish, (2) selling bananas, (3) making flitters, (4) brewing beer, or (5) selling general groceries. Nevertheless, some have borrowed funds to set up tailoring businesses, cook scones, or become hair dressers. Jean Majawa has even turned her hand to becoming a carpenter.
There is a reasonable chance her first name is some wonderful throw back to early 20th century Britain such as: Mary, Magret, Rose, Dorothy or Agness (Top 5 in Mulanje)
Although our client is likely to be in her mid-thirties, we have several borrowers who have just reached the minimum borrowing age of 18, and a number of borrowers well into retirement age.
Are you interested in volunteering? We have vacancies at MicroLoan Foundation Australia
Relationship Manager Kirsten Shearn has recently completed a 12 month term working for us based in Perth and has achieved some outstanding exposure and fundraising for us and I would make to take the opportunity on behalf of the board by thanking Kirsten profoundly for the tremendous job she has done in raising our profile and our level of professionalism. So now we are back down to our little family of very part-time contributors and in serious need of help so that we can continue to support these wonderful women in Malawi lifting themselves and their families from poverty. Enjoy giving us a hand? You will make a difference so please give me a call for a chat on 0417 211366.Schools program
We have been busy this year launching an exciting schools program that has been the concept of our Sydney-based volunteer Kamaia Harkness. A huge thank you goes out to Kamaia showing our gratitude for the inspiration and hard work she has contributed preparing this program that provides a list of Curriculum Activities for both teachers and students including a range of resources. For more information visit the Schools Program tab on our website
If this interests you then please see items 3. and 4. below.
Volunteer positions at MLFA
Here is my wish list of very much part-time positions committing may be one or two days a week to helping raising the profile of MicroLoan Foundation Australia:
General manager: to coordinate growth in all the states and pursue opportunities for sourcing us more supporters from the ranks of individuals, corporates and the philanthropic community. Initially they would receive reimbursement for some expenses and we expect this position to grow into one that is more formalised and salaried.
Relationship managers: vacancies are sought in all states to work under the direction of the general manager and pursue opportunities as described above.
Schools program manager: we have an exciting schools program providing a list of Curriculum Activities for both teachers and students including a range of resources and are looking for someone suitably skilled to launch and grow this in the marketplace.
Program presenters: we are seeking volunteers with educational experience will enjoy promoting our schools program by making presentations to schools about the huge impact microfinance can have in lifting families out of poverty and encourage students to raise Gifts on our behalf.
Proverbs are an integral part of African culture. Passed on from generation to generation for centuries, they are still in wide use today and are very much part of everyday speech.
Proverbs are used to illustrate ideas, reinforce arguments and deliver messages of inspiration, consolation, celebration and advice.
The great Nigerian author Chinua Achebe once wrote: “Proverbs are the palm oil with which words are eaten.”
We have just introduced some new links to our website to those of you who are interested in keeping up with national news in Malawi. There are several there which offer varying points of view and give you a good understanding of the level of economic, social and political debate in this democratic country known as ‘The Warm Heart of Africa’.
I hope you enjoyed my scribbling and would love to hear from you with feedback contributions comments etc by emailing me email@example.com or calling 0417 211366.