Malawi is one of the poorest, least developed countries in the world. According to the World Bank, just over half of Malawians live below the national poverty line, and one fifth live in extreme poverty. Poverty in Malawi is predominantly rural, with nearly 95% of poor households living in rural areas.
The majority of Malawi’s population are dependent on rain-fed agriculture for their survival, a precarious livelihood given decreasing access to land, and increasing vulnerability to climate change including regular cycles of drought and floods. Formal financial inclusion is low, with 67% of Malawian adults (70% women) unbanked. Financial inclusion is lowest amongst rural populations, especially smallholder farmers, women and youth.
Strengthening Systems for Financial Inclusion in Rural Malawi
Drawing on almost 20 years’ experience of delivering inclusive financial services in Malawi, Opportunity is working alongside a range of financial service providers (FSPs), including commercial banks, deposit-taking microfinance organisations and credit facilities, to increase their outreach to rural populations, especially women, youth and persons with disabilities.
The project will increase access to formal financial services and provide financial literacy, digital literacy, business and life-skills training. Digital technology (e.g. mobile/agent banking, digital profiling, credit scoring, digital training) plays a key role in reaching remote, rural areas.
The three-year project is funded by Jersey Overseas Aid and aims to improve the livelihoods, incomes, savings, and increase resilience of 24,000 rural households. The project is in Mulanje, Zomba, Dedza and Nkhotakota districts.
Opportunity International has been supporting programmes in Malawi since 2006. Our new three- year project, from 2021-2024, will build on this work to provide loans and training to some of the poorest and most financially excluded districts of central and southern Malawi. Over the three years we aim to support: