Mwanza — Councils in the country have been challenged to take a leading role in educating communities in their respective districts about the significance of saving their money in order to achieve their goals in life.
These remarks were made by Director of Chiefs Administration in the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development Charles Thombozi at inception of national financial literacy education campaign for Mwanza District at council's offices on Friday.
According to Thombozi, the District Executive Committee (DEC), chiefs and Area Development Committees (ADCs) have been targeted for the training because they are key leaders and structures of influence that can shape the proper direction of the initiative.
"The steering committee at council will be a driving force that will ensure formulation of action plan for the programme at district level as well as monitoring the implementation of the programme," said Thombozi.
He then underscored the need for chiefs to the lead the in the financial literacy campaign.
"Chiefs are respected people who are looked upon as role models in their society. Therefore, spirit of saving can easily be instilled in communities by emulating from them if they themselves (chiefs) start saving with any financial service lending institution in their areas," Thombozi said.
He also said that the ADCs interact with people in different forums where the saving culture message can be extended.
He observed that once the three structures (chiefs, ADCs and DEC) are coordinated, the exercise will be successful.
"These people are expected to play key role of disseminating the saving concept to the people because they are agents of change in society," said Thombozi.
Senior Analyst for Payment Systems Compliance at the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) Grenard Yotamu said RBM is working in partnership with financial service providers through mother body Malawi Micro Finance Network (MMFN) to hear from customers on the challenges they face.
According to Yotamu, RBM in collaboration with MMFN will travel to all districts in the country to sensitize the public on the availability of saving and investment services at financial service institutions.
"This is to bridge the gap between financial service providers and the public," Yotamu said.
During the meeting, it was revealed that high management charge and interest rates, long distances and inconsistence of network, which is unavailable in hard to reach areas are some of the factors hindering people's access to financial services in the country.
Among other notable financial service lending institutions represented at the briefing were Standard Bank, National Bank, New Building Society (NBS) FDH Bank, Vision Fund Malawi and telephone service providers such as Airtel Malawi and Telecom Networks Malawi, providers of Airtel money and Mpamba money transfer respectively.
Recent financial research by National Statistical Office revealed that only 34 percent of Malawi's population has heard the importance of saving.
National Financial Literacy Programme is government's initiative which is aimed at scaling up awareness to the masses about importance of saving their money and investing it into something so that their livelihood is transformed at individual and household level.
The programme that is expected to be expanded to all districts has already been introduced to Phalombe, Neno and Mwanza districts with supported from Reserve Bank of Malawi.