Putting community first

Microfinance graduate Prisca Kambole leads Zambian projects

February 10, 2017

Prisca Kambole, 2015 graduate, Community-based Microfinance for Financial Inclusion

Prisca Kambole saw a need in Zambia and acted on it.
 
It was 2004. Pregnant girls were dropping out of school at an alarming rate. Almost fifty percent of girls were getting married before they turned eighteen.
 
So Kambole founded Partners for Life Advancement and Education Promotion, a Christian community development organization serving Zambia's Copperbelt region.
 
Today, with five staff and more than 20 volunteers, her NGO tackles poverty through an expanding network of savings and credit groups.
 
“I’ve always loved to create something out of nothing,” she said in a recent interview. “We now have sixty GROW self-help groups to help women save money and access credit.”

Local women pool their resources for savings and loans

The groups have gone a step further by linking with an insurance company. In return for a small monthly premium of less than $1US, they can receive up to $300 to cover funeral costs of a family member. That’s a huge benefit in communities still hard hit by HIV/AIDS.
 
To bolster her leadership skills, Kambole traveled in 2015 to Coady International Institute in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.
 
Her goal? To see how community-based microfinance could take her organization to the next level.
 
“With what I learned at Coady about microfinance and value chains, I returned home and applied for a government agriculture project...and was approved! We are now exploring how women with low incomes and little education can pool their group savings to buy a cassava mill and sell cassava products to up-market shops.”
 
You would think that managing the growth of the savings and credit groups (from six to 60) would take all of her time. But somehow, Kambole was also able to lead fundraising efforts to build a school.
 
"We support more than five hundred students at Musonda Community School," she says. "We believe that they are the future of Zambia, so we are working hard to give them everything they need to succeed in school and complete their education."
 
Coady facilitator Anuj Jain remembers her as a real go-getter.

Musonda Community School under construction

“Prisca took what she learned, returned home and hit the ground running. She continues to seek new information and contacts to help expand her knowledge and skillset. Her experience is a valuable contribution to others in this sector.”
 
What’s next? She has her eye on packaging organic honey from Zambian forests, and connecting her groups with more formal microfinance institutions to earn more interest on their savings.
 
“The Coady training opened my mind to a world of community-based microfinance that was previously hidden. I now see opportunities and possibilities that simply didn’t exist before.”

For more information on the Certificate in Community-based Microfinance for Financial Inclusion, visit http://coady.stfx.ca/education/certificates/microfinance/