CASE STUDY 1: IRRIGATION BOOSTING THE SOCIO-ECONOMIC STATUS OF WOMEN: A CASE OF SULULU IRRIGATION SCHEME IN SALIMA DISTRICT
“My house now has iron sheets and food shortages are no longer a problem, my children and I are happy, thanks to the support from the WYEE project” Mercy Adini.
Mercy Adini is a member of the Sululu Irrigation scheme in Salima. Her Cooperative is one of the beneficiaries of the UNWomen supported Women and Youth Economic Empowerment Project. In the year 2018/2019 she attended business management, financial literacy and management as well as pitch trainings that were facilitated by mHub. Through these trainings Mercy and her cooperative were taught how to manage group finances, develop sustainable business models, effective marketing and how to pitch their business. Her cooperative came out top in the Salima pitching competition which saw them walk away with seed funding of 1.5 million kwacha. Through this, they have managed to expand their land ownership from owning ½ acre of land to now purchasing 4 acres. This has not only boosted their cooperative, the effects have also greatly improved their families. Mercy Adini narrated;
“I now pay school feed for my children with no problems”
Some members of Sululu irrigation posing in their newly purchased piece of land
Before the capacity building learning labs, the 28 member cooperative was facing challenges in meeting the demand on the market with their monthly sales being roughly Mwk87, 000 to now realizing Mwk 585,000 monthly sales during harvest. As a member of the cooperative Mercy and her colleagues are required to pay a mandatory fee of 10 thousand kwacha per year for membership as well as 10% of harvest sales to the group. This was a big challenge as they were not able to pump enough water for irrigation using an electric pump which was costly. Mercy and members of her cooperative struggled to make ends meet because this meant that their harvest would be low. She struggled to put iron sheets on her house, pay school fees for her children and provide healthy and nutritious food. The seed funding not only supported in their purchasing of new land, the cooperative also purchased 2 new solar irrigation pumps. This has made their work easier as they are now able to meet the demands on the market hence increasing their profits.
21 families with an average of 6 members per family have indirectly benefited from the financial security experienced by its members. These families have paid school fees for their children, built and maintained new houses, and constantly provided for the needs of the home.
CASE STUDY 3: EXPOSURE TO NEW MARKETS THROUGH WYEE SUPPORT
“As a supervisor of Mphinga Rice Cooperative, I have seen great progress in the members regarding personal finances through the increase in new markets both within and outside Karonga district. “ Dingani Vinthukutu-Agriculture Extension District Officer
Mphinga rice cooperative situated in Karonga district started operating in 2007. The cooperative has 22 all women membership. During the first year of implementation of the WYEE project, the cooperative received financial support of 1.5 million kwacha from UN Women through a mHub supported pitching event that was preceded by trainings in business management, financial literacy and management, basic accounting and business model canvas. Through this support, the members adopted new ways finance savings, business planning and management. Their biggest challenge as a cooperative was the lack of capital to purchase more rice. Upon receiving funds from the WYEE project, the cooperative increased the number of 50kg rice bags from 28 to 101 this boosted their business and has since benefited their member. Since the training workshops, members have been able to start a village bank (since August 2018 till to date) by contributing K15, 000, K10, 000 for membership and K200 towards social fund in case of emergencies. Members of the cooperative have been able to start other small businesses to boost the cooperative from the village bank funds. “ The members now have iron sheets on their houses, they pay school fees for their children and some have even expanded into animal farming owning pigs” Dingani Vinthukutu
Their visibility as a cooperative has been boosted and are now able to sell their rice outside of Karonga. In 2018 the cooperative was offered some opportunity to participate at the Agriculture Trade Fair in Blantyre. The cooperative gained market exposure at the Fair. Trade fair is a market platform that allows agribusiness people interact with different stakeholders and potential individual buyers. Currently, the cooperative has three stable markets within and outside Karonga where they supply their rice at a good price such as Mzuzu hotel and established market vendors in Karonga district.
Members of Mphinga rice cooperative during a training discussion with UN Women and mHub teams at Mphinga warehouse in Karonga district.
Members of Mphinga rice cooperative showcasing their branded rice packages at the International Agriculture Trade Fair in Blantyre.