The Halcrow Foundation is supporting a microloan programme for women in the Kapiri District in Zambia, helping them work their way out of poverty and create better lives for their families.
More than half the Zambian population live in poverty on less than USD1.90 a day. Most live in rural areas, where women traditionally have little education and few assets in their name. This makes it difficult for them to access credit, which limits their opportunities to improve their family’s wellbeing.
Financial literacy and business training
So the Halcrow Foundation is funding a MicroLoan Foundation (MLF) project which provides women with free financial literacy and business training, and small, affordable loans. Halcrow Foundation funds will cover operational costs, IT equipment and salaries for locally employed officers at a regional programme in Kapiri District.
The loans will empower around 1,000 women in remote, rural villages to generate income that they can use to achieve food security, access healthcare and pay for their children’s education. These opportunities are particularly valuable for women who are often married at a young age and deprived of opportunities to fulfil their potential.
All loan applications are carefully assessed to avoid the women becoming over-indebted, and ensure they have a solid business plan. MLF doesn’t ask for loan collateral or previous business experience, and never repossesses assets in case of default. The Loan & Training Officers (LTOs) ensure that the most marginalised women have access to the programme. Once they have received introductory training and a small loan, LTOs make fortnightly visits to Kapiri to provide ongoing support through additional business training modules and one-on-one mentoring.
Women can use their business profits to improve their lives and their self-confidence, strengthening their decision-making power in the household. By saving regularly, these women also increase their resilience against events such as bereavement, disease, extreme weather and political unrest.
Malin Rosenkvist, Director of Fundraising and Communications at MicroLoan Foundation says: “We are tremendously grateful for Halcrow Foundation’s support of our work in Zambia. Thanks to them, we are able to open this new branch in Kapiri and expand our services so that even more women have the opportunity to build a small business and take their first steps out of poverty.”
About MicroLoan Foundation
MicroLoan Foundation is a UK-based charity that started as a not-for-profit organisation in Malawi in 2002. Since then it has expanded to Zambia and Zimbabwe, and to date, its livelihoods programme has economically empowered more than 243,000 women, benefitting 972,000 children.