Posted August 8, 2017

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.

Posted August 8, 2017

Written by: Madalitso Banda

It’s a sunny day even though it’s the winter season in Malawi. The bright sunlight is a welcome sight for farmers, as some are harvesting their maize, while others are drying soya that they have harvested.

I have arrived at Gefrey Village, located in the south-eastern portion of the Kasungu District of Malawi. This area became well populated because of tobacco farming, but now, it is evident that the period of tobacco has passed by; it is rare to see tobacco bales being transported to the market as they used to be in this region a decade ago.

Posted July 7, 2017

Written by: Priscilla Sogah

Financial freedom is undoubtedly the pursuit of most people, and CARE, through its Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs), is helping rural farmers like Joseph and Vida gain it.

Joseph and Vida, a couple living in Odikro Nkwanta in the Ashanti Region of Ghana, have been married for 20 years. During that time, Joseph has supported the family by looking after another farmer’s cocoa farm (serving as the caretaker farmer) to make a living.

Posted January 1, 2017

Written By: Madalitso Banda

The introduction of training for 600 farmers on sustainable agriculture practices among 80 VLSA groups has bought hope, relief and excitement among VSLA members and their communities in Malawi. CARE is utilizing the Farmers Field and Business School (FFBS) approach, which involves conducting workshops and sessions on nutritional education with an emphasis on individual participation. 

Posted June 6, 2016

Written By: Priscilla Sogah

Mother Turns Change Agent


After spending a day with the people of Aki Kouamikro, a small community in the Western part of Cote D’Ivoire, I learned an important lesson: One empowered woman means progress for all!

Meet Elizabeth Ahou Yao, an enterprising woman of 38 who has a family of four. Until just two months ago, Elizabeth was illiterate but with support from CARE, Elizabeth can now read and write.

Posted January 1, 2016

Born and raised in the tobacco growing district of Kasungu, popularly known as the golden leaf town, Shyleen Magwede was made to believe that tobacco was the only source of income and that no money was ‘sweeter' than that from tobacco sales. "Most members of the community considered money realized from the proceeds of other crops like groundnuts, soya beans, maize and vegetables to be as valueless as mere paper and that a man's status was determined by the acreage of tobacco he grows," she recalls.

Posted December 12, 2015

When communities unite, everything is possible. The Join My Village project team recently brought together all 70 Village Agents (VAs) and trained them in a necessary and sustainable practice: the production of re-usable sanitary pads.

Posted October 10, 2015

Veronique Pooda, 50, is a member of a Village Savings and Loan Association in Yaobabrikro, Côte d'Ivoire. Each week, group members contribute 100 francs. Every so often, members take turns taking out a small loan which they repay with interest at a future meeting thereby growing the fund.

Recently, Veronique received a loan to pay four people to clear the weeds from her farm where she grows maize, cassava, and peanuts for her family's food needs. She has also taken out a 15,000 franc loan to grow her small restaurant business.

Posted October 10, 2015

Sitting in the shade of tobacco plants in Kavalakwinda village helps keep the hot sun and dusty wind from our faces. "We are privileged to have a visitor like you today, and please feel at home," said Ligina Nabanda in her welcoming words as I put down my camera bag.

Ligina, has been married to her husband, Likiford Banda, for more than 20 years now, and they have seven children together. However, she's not his only wife. Polygamy, here in Malawi, is not unheard of but her complex marriage isn't the most unusual part of the story she tells me.

Posted August 8, 2015

Women produce half of the world's food – and up to 80% in some countries – but own less than 2% of the world's land. One of those women is Safia Adams who lives in the Ashanti region of Ghana. Safia, who is 50 years old, has worked for the past four years as a cocoa farmer. However, Safia doesn't own her farm: she's a sharecropper, which means that she works land she doesn't own and must share the yield with the landowner.

Posted July 7, 2015

"If it were not for the Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA), I would never own goats, send my children to school nor manage at least three meals a day," Alefa Pitilizani explains. Alefa, 37, prides herself on gains she has made from being a VSLA member. Together with other women from the Chikonda village in Kasungu district, Alefa helped form the Fatsani VSLA group in 2009 after learning from CARE staff, thanks to Join My Village, the benefits of group savings and lending.

Posted July 7, 2015

Aline Sip Hoho, 29, has been a member of a VSLA group in Yaobabrikro, a cocoa-farming community in Cote d'Ivoire for more than a year. The mother of two boys, ages 4 and 10, Aline's job in the savings and loan group is to oversee the group's funds. She was chosen for this position by the other members of the group because they all trusted her.

Posted May 5, 2015

Unicky Malango is a unique woman with a distinctive leadership style. In a largely patriarchal society, Unicky has defied the odds by becoming a well-respected public figure. Her leadership prowess dates back to her primary school days. "I served as class monitor for a number of years before being elected a head prefect at Chaima Primary School," she recalls. The 40 year old single mother confesses that she never knew the leadership roles she held back then were just the beginning of more responsibilities.

Posted May 5, 2015

Cote d'Ivoire – also known as Ivory Coast – is a West African country whose farms provide 37% of the world's cocoa.

The importance of sustainable farming has never been greater than it is today. As the appetite for cocoa increases, farmers in Cote d'Ivoire must increase their yields and use more sustainable methods in order to develop their businesses so they can keep up with market demand.

Posted April 4, 2015

Eluby Banda, the Group Village Headwoman (GVH) of Simphasi leads her community without fear or favour. When she is dressed in her chief attire, no one dares to take her for granted because she means serious business. "During my early years of my chieftaincy, my fellow women and friends used to underrate me because they still had that memory of seeing me as a mere village woman. I noticed it and informed my counsellors to warn them that if they continue disrespecting me they will be fined either two chickens or a goat each," explained the 45 year old mother of six.

Posted April 4, 2015

Lucia Banda of Kayembe village moved from one family member's home to the next to help alleviate her parents' financial burden. When she started grade eight of primary school, her uncle, who worked in a shop in Kasungu town, allowed her to live with him so he could pay her school fees. Things looked promising when she first finished form one at Chankhanga secondary school, but soon after sitting for her form two National Examinations, Lucia's uncle told her that he would be unable to cover her school fees and that she would have to go back to the village and live with her parents.

Posted January 1, 2015

After working in Kasungu for five years, we at Join My Village are thrilled to share with you how our VSLA groups are giving back to their community: They have introduced their own scholarship funds!

The funds, which are created by VSLA groups located near 20 primary schools, are already serving more than 230 students.

Posted January 1, 2015

For our longtime followers let me take you back a bit; in August of 2012, I introduced you to Agnes Banda in a blog entitled "I am empowered" with this introduction: "She is not the only person whose life was at a standstill. The reasons might be different but the effects almost similar. Little did the women know that the coming in of Join My village will help them unlock fortunes and bringing new directions to their lives and that of their families."

Posted January 1, 2015

Atiness Banda and Yona Banda have been married for more than 20 years and together raised five children - three boys and two girls – but they also lost three children due to poverty. "There was a time where I could have a child and fail to produce milk because I had not eaten anything for days, and the end result was death," says 44 year old Atiness.

Posted September 9, 2014

Harriet Chenembu, a 16-year-old student at Kafukule secondary school, will go to any length to become a nurse. When she closes her eyes, she sees herself in a nursing uniform, epaulette and cap, assisting patients in her community.

While she understands the many hurdles girls face in accessing education, Harriet is determined to overcome them. As the youngest of three girls, Harriet feels a responsibility to be a role model for her brothers and sisters. She knows that whatever she does will have an impact on her siblings' lives.