A few weeks ago, I was on holiday in Malawi myself and was lucky enough to spend an afternoon with Joseph and Joseph from Microloan to see some of the great work they're continuing to do out there.
The Microloan Foundation provides small loans and business advice to women in Malawi and Zambi which allow these women to start up small businesses in their local communities, selling rice, tomatoes, bananas and so on.
The women then form small groups and are collectively responsible for re-paying the loans. This helps them learn about money management and means they receive a lump sum at the end with which to improve their family and community lifestyle.
One of the loan agreements
I met Joseph and Joseph in Rumphi, Northern Malawi, to attend a repayment meeting in a local village. These meetings take place fortnightly and each member of the group is expected to repay their share of the loan and make their savings.
Having driven for an hour along a dusty track, we were greeted with the sound of singing from the women, who were singing about how grateful they were to Microloan for improving their lives.
After the repayments had taken place, we then had a Q&A session where I got to find out how the opportunity to run their own businesses had affected their lives. All the women agreed unanimously that their lives had changed for the better as they were now able to provide for their families, without having to solely rely on their husbands for support.
Annie told me that her biggest wish for next year was to save up enough money to buy a proper bed, instead of the mat she currently sleeps on.
Last year, Microloan made 22,000 loans to 11,000 women like Annie, helping them set up profitable businesses and accumulate around about £15 in savings each. £15 might not sound like a lot but these savings helped look after 66,000 dependents.
This year Microloan are looking to expand in Malawi, Zambia and Namibia with the aim of helping over 100,000 people work their way out of poverty by Christmas.
So hopefully, along with Microloan's support, Annie will be sleeping soundly and comfortably come December.
(Posted by Helen)