Dominic Banda hails from Simeon Banda village in the area of Traditional Authority Khosolo in Mzimba district. Dominic is one of twenty beneficiaries from Makhangala zone, Kachima cluster that is benefiting from interventions by the Pathways for Successful Transition (PAST) project. Before the inception of the PAST project in June 2019, Dominic was in extreme poverty as he was struggling to feed his wife and two children.
“My farm harvests could not afford to sustain my family for a quarter part of the year. I was cultivating maize without applying fertilizer. I was harvesting less than three bags of maize. I had no excess maize to sell and it was difficult to generate income to support the education of my children who are at primary school. As a result of this, my two children could go to school without notebooks and pens. Even our habitation was difficult as we were staying in a grass thatched house with a mud block and no cement floor,” Dominic explained.
After being deemed fit to work, Dominic who is now 46 years of age was selected to benefit from a package of interventions implemented by the PAST project. One such intervention was coaching and mentorship in personal finance management, budgeting, investing money, smart agriculture, and mindset change to develop a self-reliance mentality, and to know his rights. These coaching and mentoring sessions were championed by Community Agent (CA) Francis Kamanga and members of Hanock Community Theatre Group (CTG) who were trained by Save the Children and Creative Centre for Community Mobilization (CRECCOM) respectively.
“We have been disseminating standard financial literacy and social behavior change messages during our home visits and theatre for development plays to Dominic and other beneficiaries to promote access to rural financial services. Our theatre for development plays have focused on dampening social-cultural practices that contribute to the stagnation of people that receive Social Cash Transfer Program (SCTP) money from the government,” Paul Banda, Secretary of Hanock CTG said.
As a result of continuous coaching and mentorship, Dominic had already developed a business plan by December 2020 when his 110000 Kwacha seed capital was disbursed in his mobile money account. Dominic said that he opted to invest in agriculture after considering factors such as location as he is two kilometers away from Nkhotakota district.
“I decided to invest in agriculture after consulting with my wife. We decided to invest in goat rearing because the market is readily available as buyers from Nkhotakota district offer a good price of 15000 Kwacha per goat. Currently, there are four goats in my kraal. We also decided to utilize the available water in the stream making a boundary between Mzimba and Nkhotakota districts to venture into irrigation farming. I grew beans, Irish potatoes, and tomatoes. After selling these crops, I have purchased iron sheets,” Dominic explained.
Currently, Dominic has successfully purchased 19 iron sheets and is planning to roof his house before rain season. He has managed to harvest maize projected to net 45 bags; his children are no longer struggling with writing materials at school. This dream could not be realized without the PAST project which is being implemented in his area by Save the Children in consortium with CRECCOM with financial and technical support from the Government of Malawi through Financial Access for Rural Markets, Smallholders, and Enterprises (FARMSE).