Albert Chilale, a 60-year-old cotton farmer, lives with his wife Ronna Timona in and his family of 16 Choma, Zambia.
Last year, the couple grew 4 hectares of cotton on their 12 hectares of total land that the family has under cultivation. Albert embraced the offer of receiving his cotton payment in vouchers from Dunavant, a cotton buying company in Zambia.
This opportunity was made possible for Albert with the help of MEDA's Techno-Links project partner Zoona, a company that offers an electronic mobile phone-based voucher program for credit, savings, money transfers and payment services in four rural communities in Zambia.
He signed up for 30 vouchers (570 USD) to spend at local retailers for a 5% discount on goods. "It's like a bank, I'm able to save money so I don't misuse it," Albert said. Without a bank account, Albert might be tempted to divert some of his family's income on other things. With the vouchers, he was able to use the money earned for purchasing what he and his family really wanted: maize and cotton seed, a plough, iron sheets, a tv, solar panel, and even a small generator.
Albert points to the crops in his fields this season as the main benefits of the voucher – the maize is already showing promise. His spending mentality has also changed because he now plans and plants more because of the vouchers. Ronna agrees, "It's better to have the vouchers because the money doesn't get wasted this way." Albert recounts how this year, his wife and son joined him to plan what they would like to buy. Albert and Ronna hope to use their vouchers in the future to buy a tractor.