Rock on, Emmanuel!

Emmanuel’s band bought their instruments with a Manyamula COMSIP Cooperative low-interest loan. They have since paid it back, after playing gigs around the village. “Feel welcome, feel welcome!” The band – with keyboard, a drum kit, and a whole line of singers – sang us into the full meeting hall.  The music, the dancing, the warm smiles certainly made us feel very welcome. Boyd and I settled in to meet and share with the members of the Manyamula COMSIP Cooperative (formerly called the Manyamula Savings and Loans Group – MAVISALO) in rural Malawi. “I  want to give a testimony of what this group has done for me.” The band leader, Emmanuel Cachari, declared. Notice the “local looking” cymbal in the upper left corner of the photo. “If you look closely at my musical instruments you will see that some look local and some look exotic. The ones that look local, that is my beginning.” Indeed, one of the cymbals on the drum kit was clearly a piece of pounded metal, with drilled holes to make the right kind of ringing sound.  The room filled with applause, celebrating just how far the group had come. They band had been playing gigs at weddings and other celebrations, earning about $10 US Dollars per show. But their “local looking” instruments left something to be desired. Then, Canaan Gondwe, the leader of the Manyamula COMSIP Cooperative (which has received several SIA Community Grants) invited them to join the Cooperative. The band used the Cooperative as a place to save their earnings. Soon, they were able to receive a low-interest loan of about $280 to buy the “exotic” keyboard and drums. The change in quality of their instruments helped them secure even more gigs and now they have saved over $1,000 in earnings, even after paying back the loan. The key to business is “hard work and focus,” Emmanuel confirmed to us. And the Manyamula COMSIP Cooperative is a way for people to be able to expand their businesses and succeed through their hard work  – just as he did. “I hope many of us will change for the better,” he said of his 165 fellow Cooperative members. Emmanuel finished his testimony by sharing a big dream with us: “I hope, in time, we will be visiting you in the U.S.” he said, as the room erupted with cheers and whistles of support. We look forward to rocking out with this band again soon! More stories about the Manyamula COMSIP Cooperative: Mbwenu, Innovator New Wheels for MAVISALO (Grant Update) Maize Mill Photos What’s in a Smile? #SuccessStory #AfricaTrip2014 #SIAGrants #Music #Malawi

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