Alleviate human/wildlife conflicts in Malawi

by MicroLoan Foundation USA
Esme, in her 4th loan cycle, sells rice
Esme, in her 4th loan cycle, sells rice


10 students and 3 adults (including yours truly) leave for Madras in mid June. We will be visiting the Chickolongo Community Fish Farm to see how much progress has been made in the past few months. We will take photos and bring back stories to share with you in the next report.

Until then, here are the key facts from our work in 2013:

Fact                                       Malawi           Zambia                Total/Average

Number of clients                    26,371             3,711                   30,082

Percentage of portfolio            88%                 12%

# women’s groups                   1,673               234                       1,907

# of loans disbursed                82,880             7,295                    90,175

Value of loans                         $5,135,490      $1,613,770            $6,749,260

Average loan size                   $89                  $214                      $104

Number of staff                       102                  17                          119

Repayment rate                      99%                 97%                       99%

Avg. starting loan                    $63                  $120                       $69

Avg. standard loan                  $74                  $145

Avg. Farming loan                   $91                

Avg Medium loan                    $87                 

Avg. Bridging loan                  $371

Avg. Chiyambi loan                $21

Avg. Mwakhoza                                                $265

Avg. Nkunzi                                                      $554




Ruth, at home in Chickolongo
Ruth, at home in Chickolongo

Greetings from snowy Boston,

The Chickolongo community doesn't have to contend with snow, but the rains fell and they are about to harvest their first maize crop. The community members working in their vegetable plots, are all smiles. They are delighted to be laboring in a secure environment - none of their crops have been damaged by elephants - and they will have fresh produce for their families' consumption as well as a source of income from the produce they take to market.

An MLF USA supporter was recently on site at the fish farm and he told me that the fish are not only growing, but multiplying.The first "catch" from the fish ponds will be ready in about 3-4 weeks. A group of community women are receiving our business and training education in preparation for their loan which willl allow them to set up their own small fish selling business.

In order to assess our, and the community's progress, Amani Consulting from Blantyre, Malawi has been on site developing a baseline for developing a social performance management report. They met, interviewed and surveyed many community members so that in future reports we can share with you the community's progress out of poverty.

A little closer to home, Hannah Gallen and Daniel Kim - both high school students who visited the Chickolongo Community last summer - came to Boston and made a wonderful presentation at our annual, "A Taste of Africa" gala. Our guests were were in awe as Hannah and Daniel told of their experience, and how it had impacted their life. One guest told me that he was, "truly inspired" after listening to them.

Can I inspire you to take that trip of a lifetime and come to Malawi with me? We're planning a trip for this September, so let me know if you are interested. I'm always looking for ways to share our stories about the wonderful entrepreneurial women of Malawi, so contact me any time if you have suggestions or would like more information. Please, tell me what you would like to hear about in future reports.



Majestic, but dangerous.
Majestic, but dangerous.
Hannah and Daniel at "A Taste of Africa"
Hannah and Daniel at "A Taste of Africa"
Lucy and son on the fish farm site
Lucy and son on the fish farm site

Greetings from MLF USA.

The Chickolongo Community Fish Farm is now a reality. It was offically opened on September 14, 2013 by Malawi's Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Culture, Ms. Rachel Mazombwe-zulu. Zulu stressed that the government was committed to implementing new approaches, especially to develop partnerships with stakeholders, to effectively manage wildlife both inside and outside protected areas, as previously, neighbouring communities (to such areas) never benefited anything, let alone allowed access to harvest certain natural resources on a sustainable basis.

In his remarks, the German Ambassador to Malawi, Dr Peter Woeste, who indicated the project was a direct response to an appeal for help from the Chikolongo community, said the initiative was a “nice deal” as it would help to keep the animals, particularly elephants, away from the people and the farm fish for people’s alternative livelihood.

“The elders identified a fish farm as something that could improve life for the villagers. We’re hoping the farm will keep the villagers safe and the animals safe, and we’re relying on the support of Chikolongo to make sure the farm is a success,” he said.

Here is a link to a short video of the project:

The MicroLoan Foundation USA will hold it's annual A Taste of Africa gala on December 6, at Fenway Park in Boston.Full details, ticket information, etc, can be found on our website,

More news after the Holidays.

Envoys trip to Chickolongo Fish Farm site
Envoys trip to Chickolongo Fish Farm site

I hope everyone is enjoying a wonderful summer.

In July, I traveled to Malawi to check out the progress on the Liwonde Project. Travelling with me were the owners and staff of Envoys - a student educational travel company - and the five students taking part in the Malawi - Microfinance in Action program. We spent a day helping - or at least attempting to help - the villagers clearing the 3 hectare  (about 7.5 acres) fish farm site. It was back-breaking work as everything is being cleared by hand. Chopping, digging and prying stubborn tree stumps out of rock hard earth, on a blazing hot day was tough, but no one complained.

25 (approximately 150 people) community families committed to work on the preparation and construction of the fish farm, in return for a "share"  - a small plot of land within the fish farm compound - to grow their own vegetables around a mini fish pond which will be stocked with fingerlings.

At times we felt as if we were in the way - the village men were much more adept at wielding a machete or pick ax then we were. But we had no problem picking up the twigs and dead grasses to build the small fires needed to burn the stumps.

We were treated to a delicious lunch prepared right there in the field by Lucy and two other village women. Cooked over an open fire, we had grilled chicken, kidney beans and a green leafy vegetable similar to spinach. It was all scooped up from a tin plate with a piece of bread and our hands.

At the end of the day, when we all gathered with Project Manager Mike Labuschagne, we thanked the villagers for their hospitality and putting up with our lack of experience with manual labor. We really wondered if we had been a help or a hindrance. The village Headman, with Mike interpreting said it best, "We know you think you haven't done much, but you came all the way from America to help us in this poor community. We give you many blessings, as without your help we wouldn't be doing this at all."

The Chickolongo Community Fish Farm will have it Grand Opening in mid-September, and I will send out the next progress report shortly afterwards.

Thank you for your continued support. We couldn't do it without you.



Flako giving it his all!
Flako giving it his all!
Avian and Lucy taking a photo break.
Avian and Lucy taking a photo break.
Hannah and the village Headman gathering twigs.
Hannah and the village Headman gathering twigs.


Liwonde Headman and villagers
Liwonde Headman and villagers

Thank you for your support of the Liwonde Project.

I was asked recently how and why we selected the Chickolongo Community for the fish farm. Initially we conducted an extensive survey among the four villages in the community. The results were overwhelmingly in favor of the project. Here are the conclusions from the survey:

  1. 1.   The human animal conflict in Chikolongo village is intense and extremely destructive.  91% of our survey respondents had experienced conflict with wild life. 21 lives have been lost in the past 2 years.
  1. 2.     The survey indicated a poor relationship between the village and the park authorities.  95% of respondents considered the electrified boundary fence to be ineffective.  (A new, state of the art electrified fence will ensure the safety of the fish farm)
  1. 3.     Over 60% of respondents rely on the Shire River for their household water source.  This brings them into immediate conflict with the wild animals of the park.  93% of those that source water from the Shire need the water for their most basic daily human needs such as drinking, washing, and cooking.
  1. 4.     Only 23% of respondents are involved in any small business and the major business challenge was cited as lack of capital.  In the light of this, it would appear that there is a real need for the MicroLoan Foundation to provide the small loans and the development of business skills and acumen within this marginalized community.
  1. 5.     Fish is comfortably the main source of protein in the respondent’s diet.  98% of respondents indicated that the price of fish is increasing and 100% of respondents indicated that the fish population is steadily decreasing.
  1. 6.     The survey results strongly indicated that a venture which improves the game park - community relationship, mitigates human /animal conflict, facilitates small business development, and provides a sustainable source of fish would be highly desirable.

Fundraising for the project is ongoing, both on and offline. Now that we are into the construction phase, your support is going to work as I write. Once Again, Many thanks.

Back to you in August.





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Organization Information

MicroLoan Foundation USA

Location: Brookline, MA - USA
Website: http:/​/​
MicroLoan Foundation USA
Project Leader:
Rob Schmults
Stoughton, MA United States

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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

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