“COMSIP…” called out Matthews, holding his hand in the air. “…Chop!” responded the fifty people gathered in the meeting room, as they brought down their hands in a chopping motion. The group is the Manyamula Village Savings and Loans organization, or MAVISALO, which Boyd and I visited last summer. And COMSIP is a Malawian government program designed to reduce (chop!) poverty by promoting a culture of saving. After the cheer, a feeling of enthusiasm remained in the room as the group settled down to start the meeting.
I held this exuberance in my mind as I read Canaan Gondwe’s most recent report on MAVISALO’s progress. MAVISALO, which already works to encourage savings among members and provide local loans at reasonable rates, is growing rapidly. They recently welcomed 80 new members for a total of 130 members!
Capacity Building and Training
In addition to the initial “seed money” from Spirit in Action, MAVISALO also was awarded an $800 grant from COMSIP (Community Savings and Investment Promotion) for training in financial literacy management and business management. Some of the topics covered at the recent training for MAVISALO members were:
- Savings mobilization
- Credit management
- Monitoring of financial operations
- Business idea generation
- Business planning, records, and evaluation
- Market research and marketing
- Product costing
- Planning for profit
“These trainings have impacted on the members positively,” wrote Canaan in his report, “in that members will operate their small enterprises with skill and positive attitude.” Many of these topics are also covered in the Small Business Fund program training and so MAVISALO members who are not involved with SBF also have a chance to learn these skills. Also, everyone who has received some training in the past can review, refresh, and evaluate their current business models. The MAVISALO Executive Team is working to certify the group as an official COMSIP Cooperative, which will open up even more opportunities for leadership building, business training, and community grants.
All this is part of creating a stable, prosperous, rural economy in Manyamula Village through locally led education and entrepreneurship. Canaan closed his report with a few words of encouragement, echoing that hopefulness of the group “chopping” together, “All is well as we work together to alleviate the suffering of many poor households.”
**Click on photos for a full-sized version.