‘Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ (Matthew 25:20-21)

When Jesus told the parable of the talents, he commended two servants who took small sums and made them multiply. Self-help groups supported by PWS&D are helping women in the Emanyaleni community do the same.

Tomatoes and Pigs

Bless holds her new piglet. Photo: LISAP

When her husband passed away in 1999, Bless Nkhana moved in with her brother and his family. For almost 20 years, the 45-year-old Malawian woman did not have the financial resources to buy things like soap, lotion or clothing without her brother’s help. Bless was empowered to change this when she joined a self-help group in her community.

Self-help groups allow women to come together to save money, access loans and support each other.

Bless used an initial loan from her self-help group to buy and sell tomatoes. Through pooling her earnings from this small business with a loan from the twelve other members of her group, Bless was able to do far more than just provide for her personal needs: she also bought a pig which will help her increase her income in the future.

When people are given a small boost to help themselves, their communities grow stronger.

The access to finances women have through self-help groups increases their status in their families and communities. When women contribute to their household income, they have an increased say in how money is spent. Many say that they feel a restored sense of dignity. Often, the financial freedom allows families to send their children to school, which makes for a long-lasting, community wide impact.

As Bless reflects, “The concept is very good and we will embrace it to change our lives.”

Banner photo: A women’s savings group meets in Kaluhoro, Malawi. These women are working together to earn and save money, raise more nutritious food, and receive vocational training.