The big picture is that, during 2010 our office in Mulanje, southern Malawi , made 1802 new loans to women who support 3,600 dependents. MLF Malawi not only provided the loans to set up nearly 50 different kinds of small businesses, but they provided the vital business training to help our new clients overcome their nerves of becoming small time entrepreneurs.
Our average client is around 37 years old: has 4 dependents, (including, around half the time, at least one orphan). She may go through a number of loan cycles, but she will borrow MWK 14,000 (or $90) at any one time, but then has also managed to make savings of $20.
Her business is likely to be one of the Top 5 most popular enterprises being (1)selling fish, (2) selling bananas,(3) making flitters, (4) brewing beer, or (5) selling general groceries. Nevertheless, some have borrowed funds to set up tailoring businesses, cook scones, or become hair dressers. Jean Majawa has even turned her hand to becoming a carpenter.
There is a reasonable chance her first name is some wonderful throw back to early 20th century Britain such as: Mary, Magret, Rose, Dorothy or Agness (Top 5 in Mulanje)
Although our client is likely to be in her mid thirties, we have several borrowers who have just reached the minimum borrowing age of 18, and a number of borrowers well into retirement age.
Martha Palchina is going to be 79 years old this year, but is still running her ground nut business to support her 8 dependants. But Martha is not the most dedicated mum, no that must surely go to Lizineti Chiwaya who at the tender age of 38 years has 17 dependents or which are 8 orphans. No wonder she runs a second hand clothes business.
It is really is quite fascinating seeing what our clients do.