LIGHTING LIVES IN MALAWI
We’re really proud to be supporting the Kuwala project for the third year in Malawi with our friends at the Ethical Tea Partnership.
The programme, supports families on the estates of two of our biggest suppliers in Malawi in two important ways.
Just 4% of the rural poor in Malawi have access to electricity so candles and paraffin lights are often the only source of lighting for tasks after dark.
We with our friends at the Ethical Tea Partnership, are giving solar lamps to as many families on the estates. So far, lights have been given to 6,600 families.
The lights are making a big difference to people’s lives, children can do their homework and people can meet out of doors and do a range of other tasks after dark that they couldn’t do before.
Jobs are being created too, so far 45 people have been trained to service and repair the lamps so that they can have as long a life as possible.
In many parts of the world including Malawi, people with low incomes can’t access a normal banking system. Without a bank families can’t access affordable loans and can struggle to pay for basic things like school, healthcare, food or home repairs.
As part of the Kuwala project tea communities are being supported to set up and run their own ‘banking system’.
Called Village Savings Loans Associations (VSLAs), it’s like a community bank where workers get together and begin to save in small groups.
Each group has a leader, who is trained on the rules of how to run the VSLA and the group are given tips on ways to grow their income.Once set up, savers get interest on their savings; they can access their own money like any normal bank, and can request loans.
They are proving a big hit. 5,613 workers have become involved and 320 VSLAs have been formed. 51% of savers are women 41% have been able to use savings to buy a cell phone and 50% have been able to add iron sheeting to their houses for the first time.