Mwila’s Story

Standing firm in the middle of a market in rural Zambia is Mwila.

Mwila isn’t a business strategist or a management consultant. She is a young person, who, with a little bit of training, set up her own business and is now using her experience to multiply decent livelihoods for young people in her community. 

Mwila
Photo Credit: Sam Simmons / Restless Development

This is a common theme of our work: young leaders multiplying change. Mubanga, a Restless Development volunteer, trained Mwila, who is now supporting Beatrice.

“I joined the Community Savings Group and Mubanga started coming to teach us about savings, businesses and investments. I learnt that even when I just have 50 kwacha (roughly £2.50), I can start a business and earn a profit, make a budget and support my family.”

“I also have a vision of expanding my business. I’m hoping that the profit I’m making from selling fritters will help me venture into the business of selling maize [corn that forms the basis of nshima, a staple dish in Zambia]. 

GROWING UP

Mwila hasn’t always been focused on business. Once she was a promising Athlete.

“Growing up, I loved playing netball and doing athletics, running in particular. My best childhood memory was when I was selected to represent my country in Australia in an athletics competition. I ran the 100 metres. ”

“I had a very supportive family. My parents were so caring. Unfortunately, things changed when my father died. We struggled to take care of ourselves as he had been the “provider”.  

“By the time I reached Grade 11, I became pregnant and was forced to drop out of school.” 

Mwila’s financial independence granted by her fritter business means she can afford to pay for her children’s education and ensure their educations are not cut short like her own, giving them a better chance at life.

YOUNG LEADERS MULTIPLY CHANGE

“In my community, most women are housewives. I encourage them not to entirely depend on their husbands to provide and recruit them to our Community Savings Group so that they are able to start their own businesses. I tell them about the importance of a woman being financially independent and how it leads to her entire family being financially empowered.

Mwila (centre right) with women from the their all women’s community saving group.
Photo Credit: Sam Simmons / Restless Development
Mwila
Photo Credit: Sam Simmons / Restless Development

“After I noticed the benefits of our Community Savings Groups, we initiated the formation of a youth savings group where young people save and borrow money.

“I’m happy that the group has transitioned into a skills centre where young people are learning different skills in tailoring and catering and I’m proud that the group now makes clothes, which they sell in the community. Part of the income from their sales is invested as savings in the group and later shared out as loans.

“Some of the members of the groups have even started their own businesses while others have used the savings to further their education.

BEATRICE’S RESTAURANT 

Beatrice is a member of the youth community savings group formed by Mwila and other members of their group. 

I had a child when I was writing my grade 12, so I joined the youth community savings group, which helped me start my restaurant business. I wanted to learn how to save money.

“My restaurant has been running for six months. We prepare different types of food such as Nshima, chips and tea for breakfast. It is making a profit.

“[Using the profit] I want to go back to school and rewrite maths and science, then do nursing or join the police service. I support [my family] by getting things like soap, sugar and supporting my two year old son.”

When he is old enough to attend, Beatrice will use the profits from her business to pay for her son’s school fees.

Mwila’s Message to you:

I would like to tell our supporters that women are very powerful beings. If we can be financially empowered, we will be able to support our families. I would like to ask you to continue funding projects like Tusunge Lubono “Let’s Grow Our Wealth” which give us the skills to start our own businesses, support our families and get back into education.

Disover more.

Be part of a young leader’s journey.

“I am not the Devota that people used to know.”

Find out more about how we work with young people.