Enelesi and her family have been subsistence farmers in the African nation of Malawi for generations, living harvest to harvest to survive and selling whatever crops they had left over to pay for their children’s education.
The notion of creating a better life was simply beyond the family’s reach, but that changed in 2014 when Enelesi’s tiny village of Chasinda established a Women Empowered (WE) group called Chimwemwe, which simply means “happiness.” The goal of the group was to encourage savings in the community and address the root causes of poor nutrition and food insecurity, thereby reducing the impact of poverty.
Enelesi joined the WE group and began saving money in the summer of 2014. She quickly amassed 6,000 kwacha, which is around $13. She applied to borrow 15,000 kwacha from the group to invest in selling rice, tomatoes, and fish in her community. Her loan was approved, and from her investment, she made 12,000 kwacha in profits.
Enelesi has continued to take out and repay loans to invest in her growing businesses. She is now employing villagers to take care of the fields, spurring economic development. She has also made improvements to her home, laying a cement floor and purchasing a cabinet to keep kitchen utensils and dishes clean.
Next Enelesi plans to purchase a sewing machine and start a clothing business to generate more income for her family, as well as a bicycle to begin a taxi service for people commuting from one village to another.