As our businesses grew, we began to seek markets in neighboring districts, which have no access to the lake. Here, we are able to sell more fish at lucrative prices.
– Emma Theu
This unique Village Savings and Loan group in the small village of Msaka on the shores of Lake Malawi is called Tingathe, which translates from the local Chichewa language to “we can.” The group is one of many organized by CCP’s One Community project to teach caregivers of vulnerable children in Malawi about financial literacy, encourage saving and help them pool their small resources to invest in their futures. This one is distinctive in that all 25 members are living with HIV.
“We were not considered as people with equal abilities,” says one member. “Most people looked down on us and some even said we were already dead.”
Now, they are looking ahead, after saving the equivalent of $2,901 U.S. dollars last year, a sum they never imagined they could amass.
Like many in the group, Emma Theu went into the fish selling business. She was able to save what seemed like an incredible sum of $173.80 with the guidance of Tingathe. She has been able to not only reinvest in and grow the business but to send money to her home village in northern Malawi where she plans to build a house.
“We started off by selling fish at our local market,” she says. “But, as our businesses grew, we began to seek markets in neighboring districts, which have no access to the lake. Here, we are able to sell more fish at lucrative prices.”
This group of savers with HIV has been so successful that some villagers who were living secretly with the virus have disclosed their status and sought mentorship from members. There has been so much interest that a second savings and loan group made up of another 25 people living with HIV has been formed.