7.3 Microfinance and Livelihoods

Film 8: Focus on Microfinance

Note: THPM has run two microfinance programs in its Epicenters. Initially, the first 8 Epicenters in Malawi adopted a Direct Credit Program, where THP provided group loans to community members. These groups increased and formed SACCOS. Later Epicenters formed VSLA groups. Training that animators and group management received varied according to what concept was being run at the particular Epicenter.

*Courses delivered by an external facilitator are given in italic

Microfinance Animator Training

Topics Covered:

  • The Epicenter Strategy
  • Roles and responsibilities of Microfinance Animators
  • Microfinance Program policies and procedures
  • Business management, Marketing and Entrepreneurship
  • Microfinance concepts including: Group Dynamics, Savings, Credit, Clubs, Financial Management, Default Management, Credit Management
  • Leadership


To be able to explain to the community the benefits of being part of VSLA or SACCO. To understand how to manage microfinance groups in a sustainable way, including management of defaults.  To understand how to work well as a group and understand group dynamics and how to have effective rules for the group and ensure they are followed. To understand the key policies and procedures involved in running a SACCO or VSLA.


Microfinance SS when Direct Credit concept is running as a forerunner to SACCOs.

Target Participants:

Microfinance Program Animators. There should be two microfinance animators per village.

As well as the animators, later in the program selected members of the SACCO and VSLA management committees are also trained. Since a large number of people are involved in the microfinance program, more trainers are required to be trained to effectively pass on the key messages on microfinance at VBWs.

Resource Requirements:

Make copies of the manual to give to animators for reference.   


Go thought the manual and select the modules that the group will be trained on. Ensure you are familiar with how the concepts are communicated in the local language.


The course runs over five full consecutive days. The manual gives a guideline on timings for each activity, but the facilitator should be flexible and adjust times based on how well different groups understand different topics.

Course Content:


As per general guidance.

Action Plans:

Animators plan VCA workshops with their communities to explain the concept of microfinance and encourage people to form groups and start saving or taking credit. They assist groups to form and to register and screen candidates.

Animators also plan to conduct VBW with groups that form to educate them on the basics of microfinance programs.

Other Externally Facilitated Training

When the Direct Credit / SACCO concept is being used, at the point where around 200 people are participating in the program, they are ready to be grouped together into a cooperative. At this point training in cooperative management is delivered by local government officers to group leaders. Once they have been trained and become a licensed SACCO, MUSCCO provides training for the elected SACCO board members. This training course takes place at an external venue away from the Epicenter building, so per diems and accommodation will need to be provided. The SS for microfinance will be present for all these trainings. The SACCO board will also receive refresher training from MUSCCO after each new board election.  

When the VSLA concept is running, VSLA management training is delivered by local Government officers to the committed individuals in their management committees. Again, the Microfinance SS is present at these trainings and may act as a co-facilitator.

Skills development courses are organized by the SS in response to needs identified by the community. The SS will recruit a specialist trainer in the skill(s) the community would like to acquire and the implementing organization will fund the courses.