Like 94 percent of Malawians,* Alinafe lacked access to formal lending services. This kept her and her husband from getting the funds they needed to pursue their dream of opening a store. And without consistent employment, the couple struggled to pay for adequate housing or schooling for their four children.
But poverty affected more than Alinafe’s finances. “I looked down upon myself,” she recalls. Knowing of Alinafe’s situation, a friend (also named Alinafe) invited her to join Chisomo (“grace”), a savings group formed through a local church. Still, Alinafe remained doubtful: “I felt too small and unworthy to join the group.”
Fortunately, Alinafe’s friend saw her potential and didn’t give up.
After a week of steady encouragement, Alinafe’s friend (pictured above, second right) persuaded her to give the savings group a try. That gentle nudge was all she needed. “When I attended my first meeting,” Alinafe reflects, “… I realized that my friend had done me a great favor by convincing me to join the group. She had opened a world of new knowledge and possibilities.”
Now, Alinafe had not only her friend but all of the Chisomo members willing to take a chance on her—and their confidence was well placed. Using loans from the group, Alinafe and her husband realized their dream of opening a store selling household goods. Their business has become so profitable that they’ve been able to purchase assets and invest in their family’s future.
I have grown tremendously with the group and excelled in all areas. I laugh at myself for having once thought that I was too small for all this.”
Further, Alinafe describes the spiritual fellowship she’s found in the group: “Ours has gone above and beyond ordinary friendship—we even share the Good News.” Through Alinafe’s hard work and the optimistic, faithful support of her savings group, Alinafe and her family are experiencing new abundance. “My savings alone cannot be enough for a successful investment,” she states. “Contributions from many people make for significant investments and equally significant returns.”
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*The World Bank
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