How your loans create cash and businesses
Mbewa plays host to the Mulanje Mountain Porters' Race each year, an event initiated by Mike Brady in 1996. Mike was able to attend the 2009 event and also check on the progress of the Mbewa projects he, family and friends had supported from a distance.
Mike was a special guest at the 13th Porters' Race, which has grown and now generates a lot of interest - as the back page coverage following the race testifies. This presented an opportunity to capitalise on the visitors to the area, particularly foreign visitors and tourists. So Mike loaned MK 3,000 to the Mbewa Self-Help Project, which set up a coffee and cake stall at the event.
This was a great success. The loan was repaid and a profit of MK 8,550 generated - more than enough to buy a bag of fertilizer for the irrigation project. Bear in mind that an unskilled labourer or watch man earns about MK 2,500/month.
This is just the start. Mbewa Coffee and Cake stall will become a regular feature at the forestry office where tourists book huts on Mulanje Mountain.
Though small scale, this has been a useful learning experience for all involved and has opened up discussion on many other possible projects that could get off the ground with a small injection of capital as a loan.
So take your pick after looking at the pictures from the 13th Porters' Race and the 1st Mbewa Coffee and Cake enterprise.