Leadership and New Beginnings in Malawi's HIV+ Community

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Below is an extract from the case study of an individual named Elizabeth Kalimbuka, who participated in THP-Malawi's pilot credit scheme exclusively for HIV-positive people. Elizabeth is now one of The Hunger Project's (THP's) specialized HIV/AIDS animators.

My name is Elizabeth Kalimbuka, and I am a widow of Pangilesi partner village, born on the 16th of July, 1963. I tested HIV-positive in 2004, and I am a member of Ambuye Tiyang'aniren community-based organization (CBO) founded in 2005, in Nchalo Epicenter, with support from THP-Malawi.

After undergoing business management training, I took a loan of K10,000 (about US$75) in June 2006 and started a butchery business. I bought the first cow at about K7,000 (US$55), and used K2,000 (US$16) to pay laborers and for market rentals and other utilities. I made a profit of K3,000.00 (US$24) after selling the meat (30% profit on capital in four days). After some cycles, I made enough capital and I was able to change my business to buying live cows, fattening them and then selling them live. This is more lucrative and less involved.

Right now I have three cows that are being kept in the kraal waiting to be sold. I managed to buy seven bags of cement costing MK15,750 (US$116) and I have now fully rehabilitated my dwelling house. I am paying school fees for my nephew, Madalitso, who is studying at Blantyre Secondary School and my niece, Ellen, who is undertaking a professional course in Blantyre.

I am now able to buy enough food to feed my family. Currently I have 10 bags of maize and one bag of rice [the next harvest season was just four months away at this time, so villagers only needed a maximum of eight bags of maize]. I've also diversified from my cattle business. I have employed a few laborers (men) who mold bricks for me, and once the kiln has been burnt, I sell the bricks to people who are building houses. A single kiln fetches around K46,000 (US$338) for me.

I will always be grateful to THP-Malawi for the trust they had in us, people living with HIV. The training in business management helped me to manage my loan very well. Of course, it has not been easy going all along, but I am glad to tell you that I managed to repay the whole loan plus interest. I am glad that I am one of the shining stars here in Nchalo and am urging other microfinance initiatives to follow what THP-Malawi did: offering loans to people who are HIV-positive. Thank you very much.

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