Just over three years ago Fowzia Alibaba Gilbert had been looking to expand her businesses but lacked the financial stamina.
Like most people she was scared of obtaining a loan. That was until she gathered the courage after being introduced to National Bank of Malawi plc's Amayi Angathe which offers women entrepreneurs collateral free loans up to K5 million.
"It helped me boost my business, because when I got this loan, I was the owner of just one company. So the Amayi Angathe loan, helped me increase the streams of income.
"As women, tingathe, ndizotheka, all you have to do is once you dream about it write it down, once you've written it down, plan it," said Gilbert who now owns Foxy's Kitchen and Mother Touch Nursery and Primary School.
On International Women’s Day (IWD) Gilbert and over 40 other women who accessed the Amayi Angathe loans shared their successes and challenges over tea at Mount Soche Hotel.
Decked in floral dresses and a hat, the women glitzed up IWD.
For National Bank, spending the day with some of its female employees and customers was an opportunity to celebrate the gains made and address the challenges in their relationship.
"With Amayi Angathe, we wanted to reach out to women who ordinarily would not be able to access loans to boost their businesses. From the onset the idea was not that we just give the money to the women, the idea was to be with the women throughout their business journey.
"We needed to discuss the challenges they are facing in their businesses, and how we can help them succeed. We're hoping that with meetings like this they can manage their businesses better," said the bank's business development manager for retail banking Wyson Kayira.
According to NBM, about 2,800 women have interacted with the Amayi Angathe product and 880 women have obtained loans totalling just over over MK 3 billion since its introduction in 2019.
This year's International Women's day was commemorated under the theme 'EmbraceEquality'