Eleanor Banda: Tackling physical wellness and wealth creation

Eleanor Banda is the founder and executive director of Extreme Investments, a company that has arms in fitness and wellness; beauty and fashion and food catering.

Eleanor also mentors and supports women with business startups, helps them in coordination and organisation of their businesses.

She targets women in village savings and loan associations (VSLS), village banks, religious and social gatherings.

In addition, she mentors secondary school girls and boys in Lilongwe.

Eleanor says women in village saving banks have the capacity to do well, but most of them do not run profitable ventures as they lack knowledge on business management and growth of their startups.

A village bank is a group of people who save together and take small loans from those savings.

In these groups, their activities run in cycles of one year, after which the accumulated savings and the loan profits are distributed back to members.

Village banks provide simple savings and loan facilities in communities which give access to financial services.

Eleanor observes that the flexibility that members have in village savings banks, such as saving more frequently in very small amounts and building more income result in the lack of business expansion.

“These ventures not only contribute to improving household security, but empowers many women by giving them a base for dealing with abuse,” she says.

She lists women village banks from Area 49: Proper, Shire, Habitat, Federation and Mutu as areas where she has motivated women in groups of 30 and more on growing their small businesses.

Eleanor has helped five young women to get loans for their startups.

Some, she says are AM Global distributors and she is helping one to open a grocery in Zomba.

Eleanor is a Chancellor College graduate who majored in sociology, a discipline that offers a distinct perspective on the study of human behaviour, groups and societies.

She also studied Psychology as a minor at undergraduate level.

Eleanor holds a Master of Business Administration and Marketing Management and a professional postgraduate diploma offered by the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM)UK.

She is also member of the Young African Leaders Initiative (Yali).

She lectures in Marketing at the Malawi College of Accountancy (MCA).

Eleanor has motivated hundreds of students and provides needy students with school materials

She also helps needy girls, whom she identifies through teacher approach.

Currently, she is supporting two secondary school girls, and one at Chancellor College with materials and monthly upkeep.

The Chancellor College woman, Eleanor says had psychiatric problems, partly due to poverty and due to academic and social pressure.

She stresses on the need to reach out to learners with emotional support and their educational requirements at various stages of their education.

“I believe that we are all responsible towards shaping society in the right direction. Development of the entire nation is everyone’s responsibility and shouldn’t be left in a few hands.

“For the secondary school girls, we are only paying school fees. Our finances are very limited since we are not working with any partners and we don’t have donors,” she says.

The money comes from profits Eleanor makes from small businesses.

She began the fitness and wellness business after seeing gaps in healthy living.

In wellness, she explains that one is aware and makes choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life and that wellness is more than being free from illness.

She says many people do not realise the need for physical, mental and social well-being and it is not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

The absence of this, especially among women and girls, she says has led to poor confidence and depression which led her to opening a fitness gym.

In her beauty and fashion business, she says make-up, manicures and pedicures, fashion advisory to people, especially women make people realise their worth.

“We want people to believe in themselves because that way, they will be able to do bigger things for their families, their communities and even the nation,” she says.

Banda adds that a people who do not believe in themselves are in conflict with themselves and their development roles.

She says most women and girls look down on themselves, despise themselves, which makes them inactive in development activities.

Apart from running businesses and supporting others, Eleanor is a writer and has authored a book titled ‘Inside you is where it germinates from’ that challenges women and girls to go beyond what they see as limitations.

“As humans, our potential is limitless. We cannot even use up 100 percent of the potential God has blessed us with,” she says.

Banda encourages everyone to dream big, overstretch their dreams and goals.

For women and girls, she advises them to believe in self -discipline and self – control for the achievement of goals.

She says hard work is key as nothing good comes easy, but that all the good things must be worked for.

The book is designed to position readers for transformation, growth and development.

Eleanor is the third born of four. She says her dreams and work have been fashioned by her family who have been very supportive.

She is 33 years old.

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