VOICE for Women and Girls (VOICE) program in Malawi conducted a needs assessment for its cooperatives to assist in developing a capacity-building plan for each cooperative. Mchinji Community Savings, and Credit Cooperative (SACCO), is one of the cooperatives the program is working with. The SACCO is in Mchinji district, in the Central region of Malawi. Mchinji SACCO started off as a teachers’ SACCO in 1996, transitioned into a civil servants SACCO in 2017, and further changed to a community SACCO in 2018, opening its doors to farmers and community groups.
A recent 2-day training workshop led by VOICE volunteers, Ingrid Fisher and Sharlet Poole, covered Governance Training – Building Stronger Boards. The training included defining good governance and assessing the strengths and gaps of the Mchinji SACCO Board. The content provided the Board with an overview of where they could focus on building a stronger Board and how to leverage their individual and collective strengths to lead Mchinji SACCO.
In attendance from the SACCO were 7 Board members (1 woman) and 3 management staff (1 woman), a representative from the Malawi Federation of Cooperatives (MAFECO), and 1 VOICE program staff.
During the training, both the director and staff demonstrated strong commitments to the success of their SACCO and discovered new ways to focus on leadership and operating approaches.
Each day, participation and engagement increased and the discussions were serious, as we got to know each during the workshop, we also enjoyed a few lighter moments.
A strong and vibrant SACCO has a far-reaching and immeasurable positive impact on the communities it serves. Additionally impactful is when the SACCO, has initiatives to attract and include women, girls and youth, and holds itself accountable for successful inclusion along the way. Despite having a policy on gender stating the Board have a minimum of 30% women, the Board and management of Mchinji SACCO were oriented on the importance of increasing women in leadership positions and were advised to create a conducive environment to attract women in decision-making roles.