The Impact of A Rural Financial Inlcusion Partnership


VisionFund Malawi implements Accelerating Rural Financial Inclusion in Malawi (ARFIM) which is funded by Financial Access for Rural Markets Smallholders and Enterprise (FARMSE),  a seven-year development programme financed by the Malawi government, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the private sector, running from 2018 to 2025. The programme works to support the graduation of poor Malawians along the poverty spectrum from ultra-poor to a productive pathway on a sustainable basis. The programme also supports household economic development through access to financial services that are appropriate to each socio-economic level of poverty including ultra-poor, poor but food secure, vulnerable to poverty, and resilient to poverty.

FARMSE engaged implementing 12 implementing partners to make sure it is able achieve its goals. Two such partners that interact are VisionFund and FDH bank. This story will focus on the FDH and VisionFund partnership.

VisionFund is in the process of implementing a three-year project targeting six areas; Mtwalo, Mbelwa, Kampingo sibande, Chindi, Mzukuzuku and Mabulawo. The major interventions under the project are the provision of loans to business clients, provision of loans to mature Savings Groups, and facilitating of financial education to clients.

As of October 2021, the project has supported 1,855 clients in Mzimba, 68% of whom are female, and 325 consisting of both males and youth. The project has disbursed 4,436 loans amounting to MK923,208,126 ($1,131,520) and 220 clients have been trained in financial education.

VisionFund refers clients to open bank accounts with FDH bank and the bank in turn offers banking services to VisionFund clients in their locality itself through its agent network. This partnership has not only benefited the organizations and clients, but also the operating agents who get monthly commissions that help them support their children and families.

A good example of an agent who benefited from this partnership is Gerald. “I started as an Airtel money and Tnm Mpamba agent and I was getting less which was not enough to take care of my family but once I became a FDH Bank pakhomo agent my life has changed completely and I am a boss to myself,” he says. “Every day I do more than 30 transactions for VisionFund clients which gives me more commission and business growth. I have managed to build my own house through this business, a thing that motivates me to continue in this business. Using the same profits, I am even able to take care of my late brother’s children by paying their school fees and providing their daily needs.”

As the number of VFM clients increase, Gerald is also thinking of opening other trading points and employing some young people to operate in those points which would also create job opportunities. This will also enhance customer support service and reduce time spent by clients to deposit money and also help improve the lives of children of those employed staff.

Gerald has served several clients in his area and one good example is Brenda Ndolo, a business lady who owns a big cosmetic shop and a client of VisionFund Malawi. Brenda is a fourth time borrower of VFM and started borrowing in 2019. At first she used to sell her little cosmetics at a smaller bench and made sales of about 2000 kwacha per day. Her life was hard then and she was failing to provide proper care for her children and her late sister’s children. She used to rent a smaller one bed roomed house at the lowest price she could find in the area.

Her life changed completely once she started getting loans from VisionFund. Within one year she managed to buy a plot and build a two bedroomed house and at the same time managed to send her two daughters and son to a secondary boarding school. Brenda is now able to earn more than 220,000 per market day and 180,000 on other days. This increased her monthly sales to 1,320,000 and 1,080,000 respectively and she makes a total of about 2,400,000 kwacha per month. Brenda moved from her bench shop to opening two big cosmetic shops, one in Chinkusa and the other at Mzimba town.

She is a well-known and successful business lady who always strives to achieve more and live life to its fullness. Her children are in good boarding schools in town and on the day of the interview they were busy writing their form four examinations. After building a two bedroomed house, Brenda now owns a beautiful four bedroomed house, and she is planning to build more by the end of 2022. She is also thinking of opening a charitable organization to assist needy children living in her neighbourhood.

Through the business training she gets at VisionFund Malawi which addresses good customer care, business planning, budgeting and record keeping, Brenda has much to share about the benefits of working with VisionFund. “At first I didn’t have any skills of business and I even don’t know to make my house budget but with now I am an expert,” she says. “ I live my life without worries and I strive to achieve more.”


Submitted by Joseph Kachulu Stenger, VisionFund Malawi