PROSPER Intervention: Access to finance
This learning paper summarises the support for access to finance under the PROSPER Project which is part of the Building Resilience and Adapting to Climate Change (BRACC) programme.
Access to finance was promoted given the prior success in Malawi of Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLs) and microfinance initiatives, which provide access to money for the unbanked. They have particularly been heralded as promoting opportunities for inclusion of women. VSLA training and group support was provided in Balaka, Chikwawa, Mangochi and Phalombe, together with the opportunity to graduate into microfinance loans through PROSPER partner, CUMO.
The learning paper has been produced as part of the 2021 evaluation of the BRACC programme. The evaluation found that access to finance had been improved, enabling accumulation of assets and absorptive capacity, and greater economic empowerment for women. However, there are issues of failure to repay loans and the potential for intra-household conflict, particularly if VSLA participation is not a mutual or transparent decision. Accompanying VSLA and microfinance promotion with training that includes intra-household decision-making issues can address these challenges.