Village Savings and Loans

  • Her Future?

    Her Future?

    Only 34 percent of Malawi's women are literate, however, education is valued as the key to a better life. Income from VSL helps families keep children in school, instead of working alongside of their parents in the fields.

  • School Supplies

    School Supplies

    The VSL program allows women to earn money needed for school supplies, books, clothing and food. Before VSL, many children went to school hungry and worked part time with their parents.

  • Investment


    The secondary school in Kaundama village.

  • Song and spirituality

    Song and spirituality

    In Church, the entire community participates with song. The status of women in the community rises with participation in VSL programs.

  • Her Contribution

    Her Contribution

    Earned income gives women influence over how family funds are allocated and equalizes their status with men.

  • In her mother's footsteps

    In her mother's footsteps

    Elise's daughter Moureen, age 16. Women in the VSL program are viewed as positive role models for their children and the community.

  • Generations in the fields

    Generations in the fields

    Elise works alongside her young daughter and grandchild. She hopes that the VSL program will bring a better life for her family.

  • VSL in Action

    VSL in Action

    The Namirzi Group sings en route home from their fields.

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  • Harvest


    Elise in the fields.

  • Teamwork


    The Namirzi group shares labor in each other's fields as part of their VSL agreement.

  • Fortify


    The Namirzi group shares a meal of N'sema (corn meal) and beans.

  • Water works

    Water works

    The only safe water source is a communal well. As awareness about safe water increase and incomes rise, more safe water supplies may be created.

  • Tangible Assets

    Tangible Assets

    A new shared chicken coop is the pride of the Namirzi group. Each member contributed 3,000 Malawian Kwacha ($20). When 110,000 Kwaccha ($760) is raised, CARE will help arrange chicks, feed, and supplies for this new venture.It will provide food for their families and income from poultry and egg sales.

  • Like Family

    Like Family

    The Namirzi group shares a meal before going out to the fields.

  • At least once a day

    At least once a day

    Lucy carries water home from the communal well.

  • Chores


    Women are responsible for household needs as well as maintaining their VSL activities. Lucy chops wood for cooking and heating.

  • For Them

    For Them

    When a household has no money, they have no food, no good place to sleep. But VSL means good food, good shelter, good clothes, which makes that livelihood much better. I am very grateful for these activities.” – Village Headman Khadani

  • Her Garden

    Her Garden

    Elise and a friend share a garden started with VSL funds. 50 percent of the world's food supply is produced by women, yet they own 1 percent of the farm land.

  • All in a day's work?

    All in a day's work?

    Village men fall into two catagories: Those who work and those who drink. High drinking and low employment levels dramatically affect the community's well being.

  • A grandmother's work

    A grandmother's work

    Women are responsible for household needs as well as maintaining their VSL activities. Elise cares for two of her grandchildren.

  • VSL defeats starvation

    VSL defeats starvation

    Before VSL, most households didn't have nutritious food and were starving, saving money to buy fertilizer to grow food. VSL money contributes to fertilizer as well as seed for more crops.

  • Bookkeeping


    An extensive checks and balances system among the women insures that the funds are safely kept and organized.

  • Savings


    A Treasurer keeps the locked money box. Three other members hold keys to the locks.

  • VSL General Meeting

    VSL General Meeting

    Elise tells her peers in the Kaundama village how the VSL program has transformed her life. 'If I reach something on my own, I will not have peace, because I am only one. But together, 11 households will be better off. The whole community will benefit from our business.'

  • VSL Group Meeting

    VSL Group Meeting

    Meetings start by counting the money. The secretary asks for loan payments. Savings are collected - each person has 5 shares with 10 percent interest. Loans are requested but can not exceed more than there is in savings.

  • Collection plates

    Collection plates

    There are usually four plates - one for loan repayment, one for monthly savings, one for late fees and one for social welfare to help with any emergencies that may befall a family.

  • Celebrate VSL

    Celebrate VSL

    The Namirazi group in Kaundama village ritualizes collecting funds for their VSL program with song and dance.

  • Village Savings and Loans

    Village Savings and Loans

    The Village Savings and Loans program implemented by CARE International helps women organize and support small businesses. The women pool their financial resources to get started, as opposed to borrowing from an outside party like in the microfinance system.