Most people in Malawi earn money through the informal economy, for example by selling fruit and vegetables, or by doing piece-work and odd jobs. Only 16% of the population is formally employed – meaning most people’s livelihoods are inherently insecure, and it’s extremely difficult to access funding or business loans.
In 2011, we teamed up with Deki, the UK’s first person-to-person microloan scheme, to help entrepreneurs in Nkhata Bay North access microfinance, business training and savings schemes.
The loans are raised by Deki, and then we distribute and manage them. They range from about £20 to £300 and are repaid over a period of 12 months. To date, we have funded over 1,100 new businesses, including tailors, barbers, restaurateurs, grocers, dairy farmers, bakers, and livestock producers.
Providing loans to individuals also has a huge impact on communities. They stimulate the local economy, keeping the money within rural areas, as well as enhancing the life and status of all those involved – both directly and indirectly.