A Food-Secure Household Through a VSLA

Natalia Masankhula, a 58-year-old widow with five children, came to the Fuleya Village in Santhe, Malawi 40 years ago. Natalia joined a CARE Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) in 2012 after she witnessed the transformation of other women in her village upon joining the group.  

“I have stayed in this district and village long enough to spot the changes that CARE has made in my community, especially how my fellow women have been transformed from being mere housewives to business owners and empowered women of our community,” Natalia shared.

Natalia continued, “I am very appreciative to CARE for showing me the way of economic empowerment, as this has instilled in me the culture of saving, unlike in the past, when all the money that came my way was spent on anything available without investing.”

CARE’s VSLAs empower women and communities by teaching them basic financial skills and allowing them to borrow money and earn interest on their savings. The Kasungu District is located has a history of child marriage as well as other social norms that perpetuate gender inequality. Women and girls in Santhe used to struggle to find female role models, but participation in local VSLA groups is changing that by allowing women to start small businesses that help them to contribute to household incomes. 

“I learned a lot of things through CARE-initiated trainings, which have been a game changer to help me escape my poor family background and being a widow at the same time. Now, I know what a business is and how I can make farming a business with the goal to make my household food secure.”

Natalia’s story is just one that proves that CARE’s interventions are transforming, empowering, and sharpening the skills of rural women, ensuring sustainable development and lasting change. VSLAs equip women with the tools to turn financial independence into better lives — for themselves, their families, and their communities.

“I now enjoy the farming soybeans and groundnuts, and this year I know I will make a lot of money – enough to feed my family,” Natalia shared.