Agricultural equipment financing transforms the  life of a female farmer

 By Cholwe Kagoli, Operations Manager – Central Region & James Luhana, Operations Manager –Input, Service & Finance Markets

When Netty Mazibanjika was recruited as an agent for Rent to Own (RTO) four years ago, little did she know she was opening a new chapter in her life. Previously, the 45-year old widowed mother of six cultivated maize on her two hectare piece of land in Chibombo District of Central Province, but the poor rainfall and late land preparation resulted in low crop harvests.

Natty

Her family mostly survived on one meal a day forcing Mazibanjika to often turn to charcoal burning in order to raise extra income to meet the needs of her household.

However, Mazibanjika’s life has changed significantly since she started marketing and selling, on commission basis, appropriate agricultural

equipment such as water irrigation pumps, maize shellers, hammer mills and other products ranging from deep freezers, water pipes, bicycles

and generators on behalf of RTO.

 

Musika supported RTO to develop a ‘last mile’ distribution network into smallholder communities using the agent model.

During 2016, Mazibanjika sold over 150 products and raised an average commission of between K100 to K200 per item. The business opportunity also improved her own farming enterprise after she purchased her own water pump to do irrigation farming and diversified into vegetable gardening which she supplies to traders along the Great North Road.

Mazibanjika also bought a cow which has given her three calves thereby raising the number of her herd to four and now has ox-drawn power to ensure early land preparation.

“Before I became an agent for Rent to Own I used to hire oxen to till the land on my 2ha field and most times I would cultivate late in the season. But now I’m able to prepare my land early and I have managed to pay fees for my two children who have now completed high school,” she says.

According 62 year old Narson Mbewe, a retiree who bought a hammer mill from RTO, the opportunity to purchase the equipment on hire purchase enabled him to rapidly grow his milling business located in Nyimba District of Eastern Province. He explained that he was able to pay for the equipment worth about K50,000 in just 12 months and was now a proud owner of six hammer mills.

"I was able to pay for the first hammer mill from the money that I was able to generate. When business is good, I can make between K700 to K1000 per day. The important thing is to be faithful in paying back so that Rent to Own is able to extend its services to other farmers,” he pointed out.

Musika supported RTO to develop a ‘last mile’ distribution network into rural communities in Central, Eastern and Southern Provinces using an agency model.

Its partnership with RTO has stimulated the development of the market for appropriate credit products for smallholder farming enterprises.

RTO Chief Executive Officer, Jeffrey Scheidegger, explained that the technical and motorbike support from Musika allowed the company’s field staff to reach out to more rural entrepreneurs and farmers living in the remote parts with different products ranging from irrigation equipment, solar pumps, milk cans, bicycles, and chaff cutters for dairy farmers, and solar home systems among others.

“We deliver the equipment to the client’s doorstep, install it and train them on basic maintenance and operations and provide the financing. Our clients don’t need collateral to access our equipment because the equipment itself acts as collateral,” he explained.

Between 2012 and 2016, over 49,200 smallholder farmers accessed selected financial services as a result of various interventions implemented by Musika in partnership with 10 private sector clients.