Monday, March 01, 2010

A First for ASAP Malawi

Saturday, February 20 and Friday February 26, 2010 brought sweet memories to Blantyre Rural and Chikhwawa District communities respectively, as community members danced, clapped and cheered for the first graduates of ASAP’s Village Savings and Lending program in Malawi. A total of 332 community members, participating in 31 Savings Groups, graduated on the two days.

Graduates were presented with certificates of accomplishment as a confirmation that they had fulfilled all the requirements for the village savings and lending initiative. The graduating community members displayed items, which they sell in their small businesses demonstrating to the other community members that they had indeed benefitted from the discipline of savings and lending.

ASAP Africa Malawi Country Director, Victor Katchika-Jere, attended both ceremonies and in his speech encouraged the graduating members to continue working and saving together in groups to ensure members always have accessible loans. “When we started, communities did not have the much-needed confidence that they could put their savings together and lend out their money to group members. They were asking ASAP to provide them with seed money but we did not. Today, we are witnessing the same community members who, nine months ago thought they could not do things on their own, sharing thousands of Kwachas and showcasing the types of small-scale businesses which have been established within a few months.” he said amidst handclapping and cheering from the crowd.

In the Chikhwawa ceremony Traditional Authority, Chief Ndakwera thanked ASAP for transforming the mindset of the people who had been made lazy by relying heavily on handouts from different organizations. “ASAP has managed to change the way we look at development. We need to take a leading role in our own development and the development of our area,’’ he added, “In just a few months community members have saved thousands of Kwachas and we have seen people investing their money in different business activities. If we all join hands with ASAP through this self-help initiative, our area should very soon develop beyond belief.”

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