FARMSE disburses K1.03bn seed capital grants to ultra-poor groups in Mulanje and Phalombe

Financial Access for Rural Markets and Social Enterprises (FARMSE) has released K1, 032, 154, 702.50 seed capital transfers to 4, 250 ultra-poor households in Phalombe and Mulanje Districts.

The beneficiaries include 3, 041 female headed households. The disbursement of the grants follow a series of capacity building trainings, which Community Savings and Investments Promotion (COMSIP) under its ‘Building Sustainable Livelihoods for Ultra-Poor (BSLUP) Project.

Through the trainings, COMSIP equipped beneficiaries with knowledge on business and technical skills to enhance human capital and enterprise selection.

BSLUP beneficiaries display a dummy cheque–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times

The training further sought to build the capacity of the beneficiaries on how to manage the chosen enterprise such as livestock, agriculture and bakery and provision of practical, short, hands-on training, inclusive markets as well as routine coaching and mentoring visits.

Speaking on Tuesday during the official launch of the seed capital disbursement at Kachere CBCC in Traditional Authority (T/A) Mkhumba in Phalombe, the Director of Pensions and Financial Sector Policy Division in the Ministry of Finance, Davie Wirima, said the government recognizes the pressing need to strengthen resilience among the ultra-poor.

Wirima said that is why apart from implementing basic safety nets in the form of cash transfers, the government also developed effective graduation pathways to sustainable livelihoods as provided for in the Malawi National Social Support Programme II on which FARMSE ultra poor graduation component is based.

“The graduation pathways begin with consumption support, mindful that part of what it means to be extremely poor is that a person is so overwhelmed by survival-level issues such as food security to the extent that one cannot meaningfully tackle any longer term livelihood strategies. In our case, the social cash transfers programme is addressing the consumption support element. Once the consumption support basic need have been met, participants receive support in saving money through savings and loan groups among others in order to manage risks,” he said.

BSLUP beneficiaries entertaining FARMSE and government officials with traditional dances–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times

But Wirima underscored the need for the beneficiaries to invest the capital in profitable enterprises, saying this would help them graduate fast from their current ultra-poor status to dependent households.

He thanked IFAD for providing financial support for the implementation of FARMSE.

In his remarks, FARMSE National Programme Coordinator Dixon Ngwende bemoaned the behavior of some traditional and community leaders who demand a share of the money from the beneficiaries.

Ngwende stressed that the seed capital grants are meant to lift the poor households out of poverty through introduction and promotion of business initiatives of their choices.

“Don’t share that money with anybody else. That’s your capital! Invest it in a business that can earn you income at the end of the day,” he said.

FARMSE is a Malawi Government initiative implemented with funding from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

Its programme aims at reducing poverty, improving livelihoods and enhancing the resilience of rural households on a sustainable basis.

The programme is targeting a minimum of 17,100 among the ultra-poor households currently under Social Cash Transfer Programme in nine districts of Phalombe, Mulanje, Balaka, Machinga, Mangochi, Chikwawa, Salima, Dedza and Mzimba to graduate from reliance on social support to economic self-reliance.

In Phalombe and Mulanje districts, FARMSE is working with partners such as COMSIP and NBS Bank to reduce poverty and suffering among rural households.

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