Cashing in his chips: meet Harold Kamanja


Until recently, 44-year-old Harold Kamanja - from Kainga Village in Mpando, Malawi - was only growing enough Irish potatoes to eat. He was just about able to "get by", but he wanted more from life than that.

So when United Purpose set up a Village Savings & Loans (VSL) group in his village, Harold saw the opportunity and quickly decided to join. 

The VSL members buy shares in the group and are able to take out loans from 'the pot', which they repay with a small amount of interest. At the end of every nine months, the group divides and shares the returns among its 20 members. Harold's group has a 100% repayment rate of all loans, and they are now in their second nine-month cycle.

I was just getting by, but I wanted to start a business. - Harold

Harold was inspired by the training United Purpose delivered to the VSL group in business management, book-keeping, profit and loss forecasting. An exciting business plan had begun to formulate in his mind, so after he graduated from the training he started saving up to buy a cooking pan - and he took out a small loan from the VSL group to buy cooking oil and salt.

He used his purchases to set up a chip stand in the village. This has brought him success - but his entrepreneurial ventures are far from over.

"I am doing well now, and I repaid my loan," Harold says. "With the payout [I received] from this session, I plan to buy a second pan and expand. I want to sell [my chips] on the main road. There's more trade there."


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