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New Wheels for MAVISALO (Grant Update)

Do you know that joy? That moment when, after saving and saving, you finally have enough to make that big purchase?

The Manyamula Village Savings and Loans Cooperative (MAVISALO) felt that joy this month. After six months of diligent saving the Motorcycle Fund reached it goal!

Growing Grassroots

To back-up a second, SIA supported the formation of MAVISALO in 2009. Since then, the cooperative has provided a safe place to save money and access low-interest loans. Loans help people expand their small farms and local businesses. Savings are kept safe until a family can afford to buy a cow or a tin roof to replace their thatched one.

This group of 165 members deals with a lot of cash.

Loan payments and voluntary savings are collected each Tuesday. And so each Tuesday the MAVISALO Treasurer must travel to Mzimba to deposit the collected money to keep it safe and accounted for. Though Mzimba is the nearest town it is still a bumpy, dusty, hour-long bus ride away. Except there isn’t bus service between Manyamula and Mzimba. So people ride standing in the back of trucks to travel the 14 miles.

And packed in the back of a truck isn’t a safe way to carry lots of cash.

In addition, MAVISALO needed a better way to reach their many, distant, rural members – especially to conduct site visits before approving loan applications or to check on loan defaulters.

One of the bumpy, dusty "roads" around Manyamula Village in rural Malawi.

One of the bumpy, dusty “roads” around Manyamula Village in rural Malawi.

A Compromise

So MAVISALO requested funds from SIA to purchase a motorcycle. And SIA, wanting to support this amazing grassroots institution while also encouraging a sense of ownership of the motorcycle, proposed a compromise. A SIA grant would cover half the cost, and MAVISALO would have to save for the other half.

Canaan Gondwe poses on MAVISALO's new motorcycle. A log book will track usage, mileage, and scheduled maintenance.

Canaan Gondwe poses on MAVISALO’s new motorcycle. A log book will track usage, mileage, and scheduled maintenance.

That was last July. And now: the joy!

MAVISALO has saved loan profit and contributions from their maize mill and bought what Canaan Gondwe (MAVISALO Coordinator) calls their “sturdy and strong” motorcycle. Proving again their resourcefulness, MAVISALO enlisted a Malawian organization, COMSIP, which supports cooperatives like MAVISALO, to help them find a good bike and pay for the registration and insurance.

“The Cooperative is grateful to SIA and all members of the cooperative for raising the fund on a cost sharing deal,” announced Canaan in his recent report, “and we pledge to put the motorcycle to its proper care and use.”

Congratulations MAVISALO! Your diligence has paid off! I have no doubt that the bike will be well maintained and used for many years to come, enabling this strong and sturdy Cooperative to better serve their members and work even more efficiently.

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