Mercy Banda from Mvyapule village, Mafundeya cluster in the area of Traditional Authority (T/A) Mabulabo is among 76 Social Cash Transfer Program (SCTP) members benefiting from the Pathways for Successful Transition (PAST) project. Mercy is 46 years of age and married to George Banda who is 49 years old. Mercy together with her husband has five children. Before the initiation of PAST project in Mzimba district, Mercy said that she was struggling with a shortage of food, poor housing, and a lack of basic commodities such as soap, sugar, writing materials for her children.
“I was depending on 8000 Kwacha received from SCTP. This was not enough to sustain my family for two months. We have been staying in this small grass-thatched house, without cement, and with poor ventilation system for twenty years now,” she explained.
Despite these challenges, Mercy’s situation started to change in 2019 with the coming of the PAST project. This project is being implemented in Mzimba district by Save the Children in consortium with Creative Center for Community Mobilization (CRECCOM). These two implementing organizations trained Community Agents (CA) and Radio Listening Clubs (RLC) to intensively coach and mentor PAST beneficiaries. In Mafundaya cluster, CA Sarah Ng’oma and members of Tilindimwayi RLC were trained to disseminate social behavior and financial literacy core messages. These messages were aiming at promoting access to rural finance and mindset change for these PAST project beneficiaries to attain decent livelihood.
“Mercy together with her husband were coached and mentored in areas of gender, personal finance management, savings, and investing money. They were coached to sit down with household members such as children and discuss the priority needs for their household,” CA Sarah Ng’oma said.
As a result of these coaching and mentoring sessions, Mercy together with her husband and her elder son developed a business plan that focused on timber milling and agribusiness. After receiving seed capital of 90000 Kwacha, Mercy purchased 2 bags of soya costing her 50000 Kwacha and the remaining 40000 Kwacha was invested in the timber milling business.
“The two bags of soya were used as seeds; I harvested 35 bags of soya. With good prices offered this year for soya I got a sum of 1, 200, 000 Kwacha after selling. I have employed one person who is milling timber together with my son at Chizani,” she explained.