Chololo and their honey

MicroLoan enjoys acknowledging the amazing success stories of our clients who as a result of our loans and training, have gone on to set up their own businesses to support their families. Furthermore, we feel it is great to share the success stories and experiences of our many volunteers, supporters and staff across the world who have seen for themselves the impact their work has in Africa. Read on to learn more about how we really offer “a hand up, not a hand out.”

Rumphi, North Malawi: MicroLoan has launched an exciting and, hopefully, prosperous, scheme aimed at helping honey farmers in the area. Our two volunteers, Yusef and Charlotte, visit the region to find out how things are going.

In our contact with MicroLoan clients we have often seen women start businesses after tragedy has befallen them. Daphine Kmwenda is one such person. She was widowed 10 years ago when the early death of her husband left her with two small children to bring up. Struggling to support her family, Daphine has been selling maize and bananas, however neither enterprise has proved successful enough to make ends meet.

Chololo- The MicroLoan Foundation

In an attempt to diversify, Daphine, along with some other women from her village, decided to take a course in bee keeping. However, with no financing the women found their training could not be put into practice. It was at this point that Micro-Ventures stepped in. It gave the women the finance to buy their own hives and begin honey production. With this assistance from Micro-Ventures Daphine says she no longer fears how she will feed her family.

Other women in the village, noticing the improvements in their friends’ lives, have decided that they would like to join the group for its next loan cycle. Juliet is one such woman. Juliet had been suspicious of MicroLoan. In Malawi, finding financing for your business is hard and many organizations aren’t trustworthy; this is why MicroLoan is so important to the people of Malawi. It provides an honest service that people can rely on. After witnessing the experiences of her friends and hearing the good reputation of the MicroLoan Foundation, Juliet is now anxious to join the Chololo group. She notes that, unlike other organizations providing financing, MicroLoan automatically offers individuals the opportunity to recapitalize immediately after the successful completion of a loan cycle. This offers women better opportunities for the continued longevity of their businesses.

Juliet was also encouraged to join the Chololo women by the supportive stance that the community has taken towards the women. The men have pitched in to help with some of the more physical jobs and all of the women work together to tend their 50 hives. She felt that the supportive relationship was comforting when facing the prospect of beginning a new business.

The women of the Chololo group have done amazingly well considering that they have only just come to the end of their first loan cycle. Many have been able to improve their homes and save for the future but the women still feel that they need to work hard. Daphine tells us that she still feels that she won’t be able to pay for her children’s schooling.

"Currently we have to sell our honey locally," she tells us, "We have to sell it quite cheaply. We get 50000mk per hive at every harvest. We are hoping to expand and go further afield so that we can get a more reasonable price." Transportation however is difficult to come by in Malawi and getting the product further afield is easier said than done. The women feel that it would be of great benefit to them to find a company who could buy their honey directly from them and then distribute it across the country and possibly beyond.

MicroLoan is currently looking at ways in which to increase the profits of the honey production and Mzuzu field officer Prinster tells us: "There needs to be expansion so that their profit margins are bigger." The women are enthusiastic to see this happen. Daphine tells us: "We want to see our honey in stores across Malawi."

These women are proud of the quality of the product that they make and it is for this reason that they believe that there is real potential for their businesses. The Chololo women have only just begun their journey with MicroLoan. They have all benefited from the financing and support that MicroLoan provides and hopefully, with continued support, they will be able to realise their hopes for the future.

If you would like to support a different approach to charity, and give more women like Chololo a hand up, not a hand out, please donate today. Thank you for your support.