Trustee, Alan Penson tells us why Catherine Kauma inspires him

I met Catherine on 20 October 2016 with Lesley-Anne Alexander, a fellow MLF UK trustee, as part of a visit to the MLF work in Malawi.

Catherine has been a client of MLF for over four years and lives in Mchinji, Central District, Malawi near the western border with Zambia.  Catherine is a mother, businesswoman, farmer, landlord and wife.  She is 26 years old and has three children.  She attended primary school and the first year of high school.

Her main business is a grocer’s shop, which is adjacent to the compound where she lives with her family.  The location is on the edge of town, but quite near the intersection of the road from Lilongwe to the Zambian border and the road to Kasungu, where MLF’s Malawi head office is located.

The shop is open from 8am till 9pm at night.  She often rises at 5am (before sunrise) to get her children ready for school and make sure that they have breakfast.  Her husband also separately runs a grocer’s shop in the centre of town at the market.

Catherine is also the landlord for her compound and is responsible for managing the location and collecting rent from the tenant families.  She has an acre of land about a mile away from her home and is responsible for farming the plot.  The main crop is maize and is grown to feed the family and to provide food security for them.  As well as a business loan for working capital for her shop, Catherine has now taken an agricultural loan.

This loan helps her with the purchase of all of the necessary seed, fertiliser and chemicals and covers a longer cycle for the crop growing season.  Catherine is part of an unusually small group of MLF clients, being six in number.  She enjoys the camaraderie and fellowship of the group and all of the women in this small group have both business and agricultural loans

Catherine spends the profits from her business on school fees and is keen that her children should have more benefits and advantages from education than she did.  Nonetheless for a young woman with incomplete education, she shows such verve and preparedness to work hard.  Catherine demonstrates that there is a possibility to find a way out of poverty.  She is indeed a woman who inspires.

We want to hear about the women who inspire you in your life, read more about our Women who inspire campaign here.