The tea industry in Malawi employs 50,000 workers, but in Malawi, one of the poorest countries in the world, 67% of the population live in what the World Bank defines as extreme poverty. With many workers’ wages still falling below the Living Wage benchmark, community savings groups provide an opportunity for workers to diversify their income sources.
Named after the Chichewa word for ‘shine’, our Kuwala programme is supported by Tata Consumer Products Limited.
We work with tea communities in Malawi to support workers through community savings groups and by distributing solar light technology.
Community savings groups help tea communities to address their basic household needs (such as paying for food, healthcare, education and house improvements), as well as to start or upscale their own small businesses. The groups encourage a culture of saving and improve financial literacy.
Nearly 2,500 workers, more than half of whom are women, have joined a community savings group through our Kuwala programme. Over 3,000 workers have received a solar light.
Through these groups, farmers can now make home improvements. For example, double the number of workers (91%) have now been able to install iron sheets on their roofs. There has also been a three-fold increase in the number of workers who now own cell-phones.
Many of these workers are women. Increasing their financial independence helps to increase their empowerment. There has been just under a four-fold increase in the number of women who have reported increased agency and decision-making power in their household’s economic decisions (70% of female participants).