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VSL groups profiting AGYWs in Mulanje district

Christina standing outside her house with her two children

Christina Yohane, 24, is one of the members of Young Queens Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW) Club from Makhala Village in Mulanje district that have benefitted from Village Savings and Loans which they do in their club. From her savings, she has constructed a 3-bedroom house and uses part of the money to buy basic needs for herself, her two children and a sibling she stays with.

Christina Yohane,24 and a mother of 2 is one of the members of Young Queens Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW) Club from Makhala Village in Mulanje district. Before joining the club, Christina used to earn money through sex work. When Youth Net and Counseling (YONECO), a Sub Sub Recipient for Christian Aid conducted a meeting in her village requesting out-of-school girls and young women to join AGYW clubs. She felt the idea of doing business and starting Village Savings and Loans (VSL) among the AGYWs was good as she saw herself becoming financially independent. 
Christina underwent a peer educator training in March 2018 where she was exposed to information on business ideas. After the training, she started making and selling sanitary pads together with her peers. Together, they opened a VSL group. Using proceeds from the group, Christina started selling groundnuts and different types of vegetables within her community and export some to Mozambique. Within six months of doing her business and participating in VSL, Christina was able to save some money and start constructing her own 3-bedroom house. She also uses part of the money to buy basic needs for herself, the two children and a sibling she stays with. 

“My parents used to keep the money from business and helped me to buy iron sheets and other materials for the house. If it was not for the VSL, I would not have managed to construct this house as the work, I used to do was not only risky but not giving me enough resources,” she said.

Juma August is one of the Male Champions that reached Christina to join the AGYW Club. He says Christina’s parents were happy to hear that there is an organization interested in working on reducing HIV incidences among girls in the community.

“They begged us to convince her to join the club so that perhaps her behavior would change. Christina shouted at us the first time we approached her because she thought it would waste her time. But we did not give up until the third time that she accepted our offer,” he explained.

Mr. August said after joining the club, Christina became one of the hardworking girls. “She started her vegetable business within and outside the country and completely stopped sex work. She now uses her example to coax other girls to stop sex work and become financially independent. She is currently one of the role models in our community,” he continued.

The AGYW Module aims at reducing HIV incidences amongst adolescent girls and young women aged 10-24 by teaching them HIV information and training them in different economic skills. According to the ActionAid Malawi AGYW Coordinator, Gladson Mopiwa, VSL is one of the interventions under the module which is aimed at economically empowering AGYWs through promoting a saving culture. In Mulanje district, 75 out-of-school AGYW clubs in six Traditional Authorities were established and currently has 940 members.

ActionAid Malawi is implementing the AGYW Module as part of the Joint TB HIV programme funded by the Global Fund in five districts of Lilongwe, Mangochi, Mulanje, Thyolo and Chikwawa districts in partnership with World Vision, Norwegian Church Aid, Plan International, Christian Aid and Dignitas International.

Janet Mbwadzulu- Story Author