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Interview with SIA Small Business Fund Coordinator from Malawi

I’ve mentioned before on this blog how Spirit in Action works hard to develop strong relationships with people. Part of the benefit of being a small organization is that we can take the time to engage directly with international partners and really listen to their experiences and the needs of their particular community. Last year, while working with Canaan Gondwe to prepared a grant proposal for the Manyamula Village Savings and Loans Group, I took the opportunity to ask him some more personal questions and gave him the chance to reflect on his eleven years of working with Spirit in Action.

1. Tanya: What are some of the biggest challenges you see people face in Malawi? Canaan: One of the biggest challenges is the poverty level mainly for my rural community. Most of the people live on less than $1 USD/day. Income sources mainly come from subsistence farming and farmers do not yield enough to last them the whole year. The other notable challenge is the untapped potential in many poor households. This is basically because of high illiteracy especially among women.

2. Tanya: Why did you to begin helping the SIA Small Business Fund? Canaan: SIA with its pro-poor Small Business Fund was my entrance to alleviate the plight of many poor households. I saw that it was a way out to bring people to see the love of God on their lives and that they can come out of their poverty cycle. This fund is empowering and exposes people to acquire the skills and knowledge. This fund shows the love of people to people. Oh! This is wonderful indeed. People serving God by empowering others. I wanted to be such an instrument of love. Love flows through me to others.

3. Tanya: What have you learned from being a SBF coordinator? Canaan: One thing is that my skill and knowledge to serve the whole person body, soul and spirit is sharpened and enhanced. The spirit of humility and patience has grown. Sometimes I was hoping to see quick changes but it never happened, so I had to want patiently and continue praying and encouraging each other. There have been changes within me as I was coordinating this development process. I have also learnt that people get skills and knowledge at different rates. The other lesson is that SIA is not a very expensive program with about a grant of USD $150 but its result is over whelming and encouraging. Small grants with positive impacts.

Canaan leads a training workshop for new business leaders.

Canaan leads a training workshop for new business leaders.

4. Tanya: How has SBF been able to help people in your community? Canaan: One business group received a small piglet through the Sharing of the Gift. The pig multiplied from 2007 and they bought iron sheets and they have roofed their house. This is most exciting and clean transformation. It is not easy in Malawi for a less privileged person to build a house.

5. Tanya: How did you get started as a leader in your community? Canaan: I worked for World Vision International as a Development Facilitator. That job made me meet many people and facilitate development programmes amongst them. This work with World Vision groomed me into a participatory leader in the community. This environment made people have confidence and trust in me.

6. Tanya: What do you think makes Spirit in Action unique? Canaan: SIA is unique firstly because its principles, concepts and procedures are heavenly mandated. It is based on love your neighbor as you love yourself. It has a mission to transform the whole person (body Soul and Spirit). Finally SIA is unique as it empowers people to do and work for themselves. It works with people and makes them realize their potential.

7. Tanya: How did you meet Del Anderson? When and where did you meet him? Canaan: I had never come face to face with Del Anderson, but I came to know him through Marsha Johnson, former Administrator of SIA who frequently was sending me soul searching reflections compiled by Del. Del still lives in me because of his inspiring and catching insights and reflections. He lived to make others grow and live a life of empowerment and transformation.

8. Tanya: Tell me about your family. Canaan: I clocked 44 years by July 24, 2010 and my wife, Lilian, clocked 41 years by October 16, 2010. We are happily married for 22 years now. Both my wife and I come from the Northern part of Malawi. God has blessed us with 4 children.

9. Tanya: Thank you for sharing, Canaan! Canaan: Thank you God for Tanya to capture me at this moment.

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