Comsip restoring livelihoods with enhanced savings, investment knowledge

The Roads Authority with funding from the World Bank is reconstructing the 46 km Karonga-Songwe Road and the project has displaced some people from their homes and business interests, resulting in loss of livelihoods.

Gondwe: Low saving and investment culturre among rural people contibuting to pervasive poverty
Member sof Lesekelo Comsip Cluster preparing plum fruits ready for procession using crude machine
Kelly Mhone the Karonga District Community Development officer apprecaiter the palm fruit
Cocoa in abundance in Karonga

Government provided compensation to the Project Affected Persons (PAPs) to help them restore their livelihoods to pre-project status or better and most PAPs report that they have rebuilt their businesses and are flourishing.

Some of the people that received compensation however had not been in profitable businesses before and ended up abusing the money.

Dan Kuyokwa, 52, received K267 000 after his banana plantation was affected by the road construction. He confessed that because he had no prior knowledge in running a business, he squandered all the money on non-essential and ended being penniless.

He laments that the compensation funds were wasted because he had no prior knowledge in running businesses.

But today Kuyokwa is a happy person following the Community Savings and Investment Promotion (COMSIP) engagement, sensitization and trainingof the PAPs in group organization, financial literacy and business management to enhance knowledge of local communities in utilization of funds received as compensations.

“I am now running a business. I buy and sell rice,” said Kuyokwa a member of Chibobola COMSIP Cluster that was formed by the PAPs. Kuyokwa had to sell some of the family rice to earn some money which became his seed capital and also used part of the money to buy shares Chibobola COMSIP Cluster.

Chibobola COMSIP Cluster has 42 members (22 males and 20 females) and their total savings is K1.2 million. The cluster also buys and sells rice.

“I launched my business. Today am a happy person because I made a choice to own a business and I am running it with necessary skills and knowledge. The cluster is now my bank. I borrow money to inject in my rice trading business and repay at soft loans,” he said.

Unlike Kuyokwa, Thomas Mughogho, a member of Kilombero COMSIP Cluster, immediately saw a big opportunity to utilize the funds upon receiving compensation following demolition of his shop at Kiwe.

Mughogho was compensated with K800 000 and he immediately reconstructed it which he says looks modern and is well stocked.

“In the next room he gets K20 000 monthly rentals,” he said. “I am steadily supporting my children education because I now run the business with proper knowledge. And being a member of the clusters accords me an opportunity to borrow money to boost my business capital.”

Kilombero COMSIP Cluster with 41 members gets its name from the aromatic Kilombero rice which is widely grown in the area. The group whose total savings is K1.2 million also buys and sells rice.

They recently bought a piece of land where they want to build own offices and plant a rice mill.  Karonga has vast areas for the production of rice and accounts for the greatest rice farming production but lack adequate processing and marketing facilities.

Lusekelo and Tuyepa,pene clusters found in Traditional Authority Mwakaboko were also formed out by PAPs to enhance their knowledge in utilization of compensation funds in order to improve their household welfare, to identify, develop and implement business ideas and to inculcate a savings and investment culture among themselves with training provided by COMSIP.

Both Lusekelo and Tuyepampene buy and sell rice, a business idea hatched from the training. But now they have focused on other lucrative businesses.

Lusekelo want to venture into palm oil extraction while Tuyepampene wants to process cocoa.

There are hundreds of palm trees in Karonga on what but value addition remains limited except for traditional extraction of palm oils in Group Village Headman Timothy Chibwana.

The palm treesproduces tonnes of palm nuts annually which can be crushed into edible palm oils and cosmetics such as palm kernel oil for body lotion, bleached palm oil for soaps.

On the other hand, Tuyepampene who traditionally buys and sells unpolished rice now have seen another business opportunity in the processing of cocoa. Cocoa is used in the production of chocolate and is also a processed as a creamy powder.

AphetsonMwalupani of Group Village Headman Mwakaboko decried poor prices of cocoa bean which is sold to Tanzanians that flood the area.

‘Cocoa is a high value crop but it is sold raw to Tanzanians. We desire to process it ourselves and we are looking for machinery and linkage to markets,” he said.

COMSIP chief executive officer Tenneson Gondwe in an interview said the organisation’s existence is rationalized on the acknowledgement that low saving and investment culture among rural and peri-urban communities is contributing to pervasive poverty and stagnant economic and social development.

The design by COMSIP to build the capacity of PAPs in savings and investment to improve and restore their livelihood on sustainable basis is in line with Sustainable Development Goal of ending poverty and contributing to sustainable livelihoods, he said.

COMSIP has committed to support the palm oil and cocoa value chains. Said Gondwe: “We aregoing to fund them. We will support them with improved and high yielding seed varieties. We will also support the construction of factory shells and processing equipment and link them to markets.”

COMSIP is building the capacity of PAPs in savings and investment to improve and restore their livelihoods on sustainable basis is in line with Sustainable Development Goal of ending poverty and contributing to sustainable livelihoods.

Meanwhile, 12 clusters,with a total membership of 512, have been formed pooling K16 million which is invested in various businesses including intermediating amongst the members.

The Karonga-Songwe road project has affected 21 villages from three TAs of, Kyungu, Kilipula and Mwakaboko.

COMSIP serves the community members who are organized into COMSIP groups and COMSIP cooperatives and delivers flexible savings and investment products and services in order to economically empower Malawians to improve their livelihoods through member owned savings and investment cooperatives.


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Sourajit Aiyer
3 years ago

COMSIP seems a very admirable initiative. All developing countries worldover should understand and try to replicate this model. All the best. Thanks, Emmanuel Muwamba, for sharing this update

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