Literacy and VSLAs

In Malawi, especially in the rural areas, education is a luxury, especially for women. Many women who are in VSLAs are either primary school drop outs or if they completed standard eight they were unable to continue their education in secondary school because more often than not they lacked funds to continue to pay fees.

Gertrude Banda on her bicycle that she uses to get to meetings and to her business

“I didn't manage to go to university, but I was lucky to have reached form four. When I returned to the village after my form four, I did not know what I actually acquired until Join My Village came with Village Savings and Loan Associations,” said Gertrude Banada, secretary for Lufalo VSLA in Kadamba village.

“Education is an important weapon indeed. When I started participating in this VSLA, I used the skills that I learned in school and applied it,” she added with a confident smile. “No wonder I have managed to farm and harvest 150 bags of maize, 12 fifty kg bags of ground nuts, and buy a solar panel.”

Maria Phiri, a form two drop out and mother of four, benefited from VSLA by gaining revenue to start a small business selling fritters locally known as “mandasi.” She has used her past share-out money to buy fertilizer, clothes for her children, materials to strengthen her home, and to pay school fees for her daughter.

“Education is like a light that takes away darkness in the brain,” Phiri said. "Even with the little education I have attained, I am enjoying VSLA and I believe I will achieve more.”

Naomi Chibwe, the Village Agent

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,” said Naomi Chibwe, the Kadamba Village VSLA’s village agent said. “There is potential here in these women. I have helped more women in our community and those that gave education a chance are on the right path. I can see that their future will be so bright.”

VSLAs in villages like Kadamba are uplifting the community by giving women the opportunity to make a better life for not only their family but for their selves.