Women’s lives improve from cooperative

Elizabeth Zambezi is the proud owner of a Digital Satellite Television (DSTV); has built a house with iron sheets, has 35 guinea fowls and 10 goats.

She is a member of Community Savings and Investments Promotion (Comsip) cooperative union at Mtambatherere Village, Traditional Authority (T/A) Ngabu in Chikwawa,

Banaba and her fellow Comsip members harvesting groundnuts

Her fellow Comsip members and others in her community are green with envy for what she has achieved.

“I was a victim of abuse because I was getting loans from loan sharks. I used to be poor and could not afford school fees for my children. My life turned around when I joined Comsip; I got 10 shares at K1 000 each and the money grew. I borrow from the group and run my own business and the profits have been tremendous. Comsip is beneficial and I am a good example,” she narrates.

The organisation’s information, education and communications officer Emmanuel Muwamba says the union’s main objective is to promote savings and investments among the un-served and underserved peri-urban and rural communities.

Rose Banaba, a 34-year-old member of Nyambwe Comsip Cluster in T/A Nkagula, Zomba says apart from the fertiliser financing problems she previously had, she now runs a successful tailoring business from funds she got from her cluster. The group contributes K200 weekly shares.

“I got K45 000 when we shared the profits and bought a sewing machine. This followed my tailoring training with Technical, Entrepreneurial, Vocational Education and Training Authority [Teveta]. My own tailoring business coupled with the group business is helping me through my daily monetary needs. As a group, we cultivate groundnuts and the funds from the groundnut sales are added to our own savings and loan interests, we get a lot of money at one go,” she said.

When Nyambwe Cluster shared the profits last year, each member also got a bag of fertiliser boosting their respective farming endeavours.

The story is the same for Gladys Taliya, the vice-chairperson for Namgoneka Comsip Cluster T/A Lundu in Blantyre. She has also built her own house and every day she looks forward to weaving and doing business.

But how do they strike a balance between the group businesses, individual businesses and running their homes? On her part, Taliya says she has all her days planned.

“I wake up at five in the morning and go to draw water. When I get back, I sweep around my compound while my husband’s bath water boils. Then I prepare breakfast while also preparing relish for the day. After that, I can weave whatever I am weaving for a little while. Then I take a bath and prepare lunch, after which I can go back to weaving,” she says.

Rice farmer, Elizabeth Chakanika from Mtambo Village, T/A Makhwira in Chikwawa says members of Livunzu Cluster each have a day to tend the cluster’s garden so that they have time to focus on their personal businesses.

“Tuesday is my day to be at the garden. And before I leave my house, I see to it that I have cooked everything for my husband and children as I would be at the garden for longer. There are baboons nearby which nibble on the green beans and there always has to be someone,” she says.

Comsip Cooperative Union Ltd is a member owned union of savings and investment cooperative societies born out of the need to serve community members who are organised into Comsip groups and cooperatives. 

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