Last week Paul and Kat from Alquity took Globaleye clients Scott and Katy
out to Malawi to see the impact of their donation on the ground.
Alquity Investment Management work in partnership with The One Foundation using the ‘like for like’ model, investing clients’ money into the listed African equity markets via its Africa Fund, which is managed according to a rigorous environmental, social and governance (ESG) model. Through the fees generated from managing these funds, Alquity then supports microfinance projects in Africa by donating a minimum of 25% of its revenue.
Alquity are partnered with Opportunity International UK, a charity specialising in microfinance projects. Opportunity International Bank of Malawi offers vital microfinance services to some of the poorest communities in Malawi; concentrating on those who are excluded from the financial system. In Malawi people face innumerable barriers to growth, in particular access to credit. Few have access to safe savings facilities, insurance to build assets, and the opportunity to increase income and reduce vulnerability caused by food shortages.
The photo above is of Ndirande Branch, Opportunity International Bank of Malawi (OIBM), just outside of Blantyre.
OIBM offers Microcredit programs to Trust Groups and individuals. These are tiny loans (as small as £35) which enable people to grow their businesses and break the cycle of dependency. Each microloan comes with a Microsavings Account to provide people with a secure place to keep their money. This protects them against day to day crisis and evens out seasonal income fluctuation. OIBM also provides insurance services to complement this. In addition, OIBM also promotes HIV/AIDS awareness and provides leadership training in order to assist clients in maximising their loans and making a success of their business ventures.
OIBM have pioneered some interesting ideas. Fingerprint technology is routinely used to identify clients who have opened an account with the bank. The data is also stored on the clients’ smartcards so that access to their account is secure and not confined to those who are literate, as many are not. Armoured mobile banks have been rolled out in order to access the most isolated communities.
The group were introduced to two local trust groups who act as a support and education group for each other while at the same time acting as guarantors for the individual repayment schemes. The guarantee system reduces the need for collateral and so as a result loan recipients do not need any previous credit history. Loan repayment rates are extremely high, around 95%. Interestingly, around 80% of OIBM loans go to female clients as any revenue generated is more likely to filter back into the household and benefit a whole family.
Paul Robinson pictured above supporting an Opportunity loan client by purchasing a cold maize beer from her new fridge! As this was made with tap water, we were waiting with baited breath – but his iron stomach held out!
The group also visited an adult literacy programme that ran for 2 hours every night. Adults from the local community were encouraged to attend as much as possible to practice their English and mathematics. Benches had been donated to this class through The One Foundation and have had a massive impact on the attendance levels and general comfort of the students who were so eager to learn. Exercise books, pens and pencils were distributed to the students and their gratitude was heartwarming.
Adult literacy class pictured above.
On the last day of the trip, the group visited a school feeding programme where a chorus of singing children greeted them. After a tour around two of the classes, the group was put to work stirring the huge caldron of porridge before dishing it out to 260 pupils at the school. The satisfaction on the faces of each and every child was evident, some having walked up to 6km to attend school. If they had seemed lively before, they were full of beans after the porridge!
Next the group distributed a few gifts for the children – pencils, excersise books and footballs…
…a few hours later, following numerous football and netball games, some competitive dance-offs and singing, the kids were still going strong – Paul, Scott, Katy & Kat were not!
Without a doubt the projects seen on this trip really emphasised the importance of the work being done by The One Foundation, Alquity and their charity partners, allowing long-term investment into the local communities in Malawi. A truly moving experience.