Microloan Zambia Foundation (MLF-Z) has empowered about 16,000 women in Southern and Eastern provinces of Zambia with business and agricultural loans. The loans are paid out and paid back through MTN mobile money to women solidarity group members.
Eastern Province Regional Supervisor Penias Tembo disclosed that MLF-Z has reached out to 16,000 women through MTN mobile money in both urban and rural centers who access business and agricultural loans respectively.
Speaking when the RUFEP team visited Eastern Province to assess progress of the Access to New Mobile Money Services for Rural Women Project in Eastern and Southern Province supported by RUFEP, Mr. Tembo said rural women access both business and agricultural loans.
“Agricultural loans targeted at rural women go towards purchasing of farming inputs such as seeds, fertilizer and chemicals to ensure food security while loan repayments come from their business activities”, he said.
During the field visits, the RUFEP Team accompanied by the Microloan staff visited Walela Centre and Tigonjerane Centre in Chipata to meet the beneficiaries of business loans from Microloan Foundation.
Women are organized in solidarity groups (5 members per group) under each center and pledge to support each other on their business ventures and to pay back loans to Microloan Foundation.
Walela Centre Groups Chairlady Mrs. Emma Banda thanked Microloan Foundation for empowering women with business loans which has made them to be self-reliant and reduced household poverty.
Mrs. Banda said accessing loans through mobile money was much safer than dealing with cash adding that it has cut on distance as members do not need to go to the bank and que up to make withdrawals and loan repayments.
“The advantages of mobile money is that no one knows that I have money as it is safe in my mobile phone. If I need cash, all I do is walk to a nearby booth and convert my mobile money into cash. Loan repayments to Microloan Foundation are also done through mobile money which is fast and efficient”, she said.
Speaking during the field visits, RUFEP Programme Coordinator Michael Mbulo said it was good to see that women were making transactions through mobile money which has made groups efficient and saved them time to transact and do their business.
Mr. Mbulo said RUFEP supported Microloan Foundation’s Access to New Mobile Money Services for Rural Women Project in Eastern and Southern Province to promote access to financial services by excluded groups such as women and rural people.
“Under the project, Microloan Zambia Foundation targeted to reach out to 4,500 women and by end of the Project in December, 2019, the Project has reached 7,064 beyond the target. As such we (RUFEP) are happy with the progress made by Microloan as an implementing partner”, he said.