Exciting news from Malawi…
Opportunity Malawi has now opened a satellite bank branch in Ndirande Township, an informal settlement located three miles south of Blantyre and six miles from Limbe, and the largest community in the Blantyre area. The roads in the densely populated township are unpaved and the central marketplace is crowded with the precariously perched stalls of entrepreneurs selling their wares.
Though the main branch of Opportunity Malawi is in Blantyre, many of its clients live in Ndirande, and their return journey by bus to the Blantyre mini branch costs about $0.30 (50 kwacha) and takes around an hour — precious time for Opportunity Malawi’s clients. Having a new satellite branch in Ndirande reduces congestion and queues in the busy Blantyre kiosk and, most importantly, it cuts down on the overall banking costs to clients in the township.
The Ndirande satellite bank is centrally located across from the marketplace and is operated by nine helpful staff members. For families in the township, this is their first ever opportunity to open a savings account and so the enthusiastic staff work hard to educate the residents on the importance of saving even the smallest deposits. Families learn to view savings as a safety net as they work their way out of poverty. They also are learning firsthand that having savings protects them from unexpected expenses, helping them to avoid returning to poverty after they have achieved self-sufficiency.
Banking customers at Ndirande have access to essential financial tools, and the branch lobby is even set up for the installation of an ATM machine, which is expected to arrive within the month. Having the convenience of an ATM will allow clients to make secure withdrawals outside of bank hours so that they need not take time away from their long, busy workdays.
During its first week alone, customers opened 88 new accounts at the branch, including one corporate/business account. The majority of these new accounts belong to families who are first-time savers and have never had any bank account before. “We’re transforming their lives,” says Leah, the Ndirande customer services officer.