Growing up in poverty in rural Malawi, Phanny raised her siblings on her own. Struggling to get by, she remembers often going to bed hungry. With few options to support themselves, Phanny and her siblings would collect firewood to sell over 10 miles from their home. And like many Malawians in her situation, she got married as a teenager, seeing few opportunities to develop herself on her own. Yet after having a daughter, life became even more challenging, and she and her husband struggled to put food on the table.
Then, Phanny heard about a savings groups program through her church—a safe place to save money and plan for her future. “I was so excited. … It sounded too good to be true,” she says. As a woman in Malawi, she saw limited possibilities for her own development—but this seemed like a chance to move forward. “I was the first to join the group,” she remembers. Later, she took out a loan to start a business in her home selling basic household goods.
“By joining the savings group ministry, I started to realize I was capable of moving out of poverty,” Phanny says. As her business became increasingly profitable, Phanny also invested in agriculture and raising animals. Phanny now raises goats and pigs in addition to selling household items. With the entrepreneurship skills she has gained through saving group training, Phanny continues to expand her farming business and sells her produce in the local community.
Today, Phanny’s household and farming businesses have grown, and she has used her profits to support and invest in her family like building a new home! Wanting others to experience the change that she has, Phanny is helping her brother pay his way through technical school. She has also dug a well that community members now use as a source for clean water.
The savings group ultimately changed Phanny’s view of life and her role as a woman in her community. She now recognizes “that women can be self-reliant economically,” and has moved from a place of desperation to hope. “I now have a deeper understanding of God’s love through the savings group ministry,” she shares.
“When you understand God’s vision and plan for your life,” Phanny says,”You understand that God’s blessing … is to become a blessing to others.”
Today, less than 10 percent of the world’s population lives in extreme poverty. While we celebrate this progress, there are still millions who cannot meet their basic needs, experiencing the shame and isolation of life in poverty. Discover the three reasons why HOPE is still in the fight against poverty.