Meet Francina

Francina Kobela is 55 years old and has two adult children, both women whose education stopped by grade 9. She is a true leader in her community, and upon her village, Nachili, partnering with Shanta in 2023, she was quickly elected a Village Development Team (VDT) member. She has never shied away from speaking up for the women of her community, creating trust and confidence in her leadership abilities and encouraging other women to assume leadership roles, too.

Francina's Front Door

Francina is determined to help lead Nachili out of extreme poverty. The first project implemented through our six-year village partnerships is developing the community bank (CB) to allow villagers to take loans at a reasonable interest rate and often pursue increasing income activities. Once 100% of villagers have contributed to the bank, loans are ready to be dispersed. The CB committee sets its own rules for its bank regarding how much people can borrow, how long their loan period is, and the interest rate. There is complete transparency when loans are given out, which creates a high standard of accountability for the recipient.

Francina took a loan equivalent to $40 to increase production in her fritter business. Before taking the loan, she could only afford minimal amounts for ingredients, making her sales limited simply due to her supply restrictions. With the loan, she purchased higher volumes of ingredients and, before long, increased her profit by 25%. She quickly paid back the loan and used this profit to support her grandchildren’s high school education.

Francina encourages other women in Nachili to take these loans when they are available. This varies by village since they set their own rules, but loan periods are typically six months to a year, and interest rates are always far less than those from brokers in Mazabuka. A solid plan for a quick profit to increase their livelihood is critical, then repaying the loan so there is no debt. The CB increases and creates more opportunities for others in the village to take loans. Eventually, the bank will be large enough to use funds for community projects like infrastructure and maintenance. It is a win-win for the strength of the village bank as well as loan recipients and the community as a whole.