In 2018, Ellen (age 43) helped form the Kulijamia Savings Group in Zambia to help herself and others in her community who needed capital to expand their struggling businesses. At the time, she had a small garden that yielded enough to feed her family and sell at a small grocery store she operated on her property. 

With World Vision’s introduction of “mobile money,” the group gained access to secure accounts and the ability to move money digitally, eliminating the worry about moving precious cash physically within the community. They also received financial literacy training, where Ellen learned how to use money, borrow wisely, and invest in livestock as an asset and earn larger profits. And the Biblical Empowered Worldview training that the group received promoted a shift in Ellen’s mindset. She said the training “helped her think outside the box” and she began seeing opportunities to start new businesses in her community.

Women attend a Savings Group similar to Ellen’s meeting in Hamaundu, Zambia on October 13th, 2022. ©2023 World Vision
Ellen with a school uniform she made.
©2023 World Vision

When VisionFund introduced lending to savings groups, the Kulijamia Savings Group was able to take a loan. This provided the group with the capital they needed to make bigger loans to its members. The average member’s loan grew from 1,000 kwacha ($63 USD) to 5,000 kwacha ($313 USD). Ellen used her bigger loan to scale up her garden, start making and selling school uniforms (see photo), and purchase five goats to raise and sell at the international border, where prices for goats are $93 — much higher than the local price of $25. Ellen’s income has now greatly increased. She recalls how she once struggled to put food on the table for her five children and pay their school fees. Now her children enjoy three nutritious meals each day. Even the children’s living conditions have improved with the purchase of a mattress for them to sleep on.

Ellen is happy and proud that her family’s life has been transformed as a result of her hard work, and she is not finished yet. She hopes that with the expansion of her livestock business she will be able to pay for all her children to go to university.

A Savings Group member collects funds and counts them before placing them into the bowl. ©2023 World Vision
All transactions are entered into the Savings Group logbook. ©2023 World Vision
This story and photos are shared with permission from World Vision. The story was originally published in the June 2023 World Vision Economic Empowerment Newsletter. Photos ©2023 World Vision.

Start a Chapter Now