Farmers in Malawi graduate from poverty to sustainable livelihoods through FARMSE program
The program, which began in 2019, provides financial management training and access to loans to farmers-Alinafe Dzuluwanda.
Malawi-Farmers in Malawi's Mchinji district are graduating from poverty to sustainable livelihoods through the Finance Access for Rural Markets Smallholders Enterprise (FARMSE) program, writes Alinafe Dzuluwanda.
The program, which began in 2019, provides financial management training and access to loans to farmers.
FARMSE, in partnership with the Malawian government, works with financial institutions such as NBS Bank and FINCA to train farmers on how to access village service loans and use modern banking services like Airtel Money and TNM Mpamba to improve their livelihoods.
Michael Mwenefumbo, the Community Development Officer for Mchinji District Council, confirmed that many people have benefited from the program since its inception in 2019.
"For the past three years, people's lives have changed for the better. A lot of members of village savings and loans within the district have attained this training to better themselves and their households," said Mwenefumbo.
"A lot of people have built houses, boosted their businesses, and learned new farming methods. This is a good development."
Shira Augustine Chiipira from Tithandizane village bank is one of the beneficiaries of the FARMSE program.
She joined the group to boost her hair salon business.
"Before I joined the group, I had a lot of problems at home and sustaining my business. I joined this group in 2021 to learn how to save and borrow money to boost my business. Since then, I have benefited a lot from the group; as I am talking, I have built a house and bought pigs, which I am rearing for business," Chiipira said.
Sidoniya Justin, who also belongs to the Tithandizane village savings and loans group, was excited about the financial management skills training provided by FARMSE.
She was struggling to take care of her family's basic needs on a daily basis because she did not have a business that could help her.
"When I joined the group, I was advised to have a business that will help me to pay back the loans that I will be getting from the group. This has helped me to cater to the needs of my family, something I was not able to do before," Justin said.
Mwenefumbo revealed that many groups are having problems accessing loans from financial institutions because of poor coordination between the group and the institution.
He added that this has caused other groups to disband naturally. He encouraged more people to join village savings and loan groups to benefit economically.