July 3, 2018
One of Pamoza’s focus areas is entrepreneurship. Pamoza helped to establish a Grinding Mill, the Zowe Community Grocery Store and community run Muzi banks. The grinding mill is the first business that Pamoza started in response to the women in the community’s need to speed up the process of being able to use maize/corn which is a staple food in Malawi.
The process of making flour intense. The women bring buckets of maze to the mill to be pounded to be used later or ground you into flour. Pamoza measures the maize to determine how many kwachas it will cost to process the maize. The women take the pounded or grounded flour home to be used for cooking or selling goods. Pamoza also has a community grocery store that provides a variety of goods at an affordable price for those in the Zowe community. We brought some snacks to support the store and satisfy our sweet tooth cravings!
The Pamoza staff do it all because Nya Zumala who runs Zoe grocery store left the store to go with us to the grinding mill (they are down the street from each other). She was there helping to measure, sort and grind the maize but she left the grocery store unattended. No locked door, no sign on the door that I will be back soon, she just left. There were kids outside the store so I asked Dr. Mitika is this ok? Won’t the kids go in the store and get stuff and he said “they will not”. After we left the mill we went past the grocery store and there was a line outside when she returned.
If that was the US, some inventory would be missing, some items taken but I was surprised that they did not even go inside until she returned. After leaving we visited a few Muzi banks. These are community run and organized savings and loans group that are a self sufficient way for people to invest in themselves and hold one another accountable with their finances. Group members agree upon the amount one has to contribute to a social fund and the amount one can contribute to buy shares in the loan pot. Members are allowed to borrow money up to three times their share amount from the group and have to pay it back with interest.
One lady said she was able to borrow 10,000 Kwacha three times and use it to buy ingredients to make foods which she sold for a profit each time. This particular group started in March and as of July they have a combined pot of 99,000 Kwacha which is amazing. Pamoza has a really integrated approach to sustainable community development and empowerment. Instead of giving people fish so they can eat today, they are teaching them to fish so they can eat for a lifetime! I was really impressed by the entrepreneurship program and how it is impacting the lives of people in Zowe.