As one way of empowering farmers to manage their money and pay back loans to financial institutions and savings groups, GreenRoot Finance Limited has formulated a financial literacy programme, which has already been tried in Kasungu and Mchinji districts.
There is a general consensus that access to loans for smallholder farming is a game-changing approach to poverty alleviation.
Some financial institutions have so far been brave enough to stick their necks out, sometimes resulting in low repayment levels that discourage lending institutions.
According to GreenRoot project manager, Yohane Kalinde, the company devised the training programme to improve borrower attitudes by showing farmers a different perspective on benefits of managing finances and loans.
The programme focuses on how to pay back loans, keep simple records, forming savings groups that minimise conflict among members, accessing crop insurance and many other topics that are relevant to smallholder farmers.
By partnering organisations that involve farmers in sound agronomy practices, GreenRoot trained over 2 000 farmers in August 2015, in a three-day course themed ‘Kusamala Chuma’ (managing money).
“Our financial literacy programme helps the farmers to connect their good behaviour to increased incomes. By putting into practice lessons taught, the farmers can greatly improve their financial capacity, enabling them to be better participants in the economy at large,” explained Kalinde.
GreenRoot emphasises simple record keeping so that farmers can make sound economic decisions.
“This and the other services we provide to farmers, low income employees and entrepreneurs (especially women entrepreneurs) is how we are participating in bettering our country. The culture of financial discipline must be encouraged at all levels if our country is to progress” said Kalinde.
The farmers are also taught how to form sustainable groups to save and borrow. Credit histories are explored and how to ensure the farmer groups remain in good books with lending institutions. The sessions are engaging and include a lot of stories and illustrations that aid discussions.
One of the farmers who attended the training recently, Joseph Phiri, said: “I have learnt how to calculate profit before I sell, now that I can calculate my gains in contrast with cost, it is a new day in my house.”
Another beneficiary of the training, Judith Chimombo of of Traditional Authority (T/A) Mlonyeni in Mchinji said she has learnt how to sell produce as a group, and also repaying loans as a group. n