CHIEF EXECUTIVE OPPORTUNITY INTERNATIONAL UK EDWARD FOX

The latest figures to hit my desk this week show that we now have 405,000 savers in Malawi, eight times as many as we have loan clients.

Of course, saving for the proverbial rainy day in a country racked by both drought and wet seasons, gives people a shield against down periods.

They can also put by money to educate children, to buy medication for malaria when it is called for or to put a tin roof on the house to replace the old grass one.

But there are other kinds of savers. On my last trip to Malawi I came across smallholder Felix in our Lujeri branch. He told me he used to spend money as soon as he made it.

Then he got the chance to open a savings account. Now extra working capital for his tea and pineapple business is provided by interest from his savings.

His business has grown four-fold in as many years – without him needing to take out a loan.