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Malawian youth experience multiple deprivations, in health, education and employment along age, gender, and geographical lines. It is worse for a country like Malawi whose population is half youthful, which if well-natured with technical and business skills would facilitate the creation of an inclusively wealthy society for all. Unfortunately, employment opportunities amongst the youth are very limited due to a lack of entrepreneurship mindset as well as the weaknesses in technical and business skills; the lack of access to markets and information; the weaknesses at the policy and regulatory level for the promotion of youth owned Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) among others. This is further exacerbated by the lack of enough space within the institutions of higher learning which have the mandate to develop human capital through training.

Such was the plight of the youth from Chamama CDSS in Kasungu, who despite going through secondary education and obtaining better grades at MSCE ended up getting married at an early stage, indulging in drug and substance abuse, etc.

The youth poses with the community Philanthropy Chairperson

The coming of Creative Centre for Community Mobilization (CRECCOM) under

The strengthening Higher Education Access in Malawi Activity (SHEAMA) project, changed the story for some youths whose stories had less meaning due to poverty. SHEAMA opened a window of opportunity for youth with MSCE certificates to apply for open and distance E-learning at five public universities namely LUANAR, MUBAS, UNIMA, MZUNI, and MUST. The project quickly introduced a philanthropic concept to mobilize local resources to support needy students thus forming a group called the Community Philanthropy Committee (CPC). The committee in collaboration with school governance structures such as mother groups, parent-teacher associations, and school board of governance embarked on an awareness campaign to let deserving students know of the opportunities before them through university partners.

This helped a group of form four graduates to seize an opportunity that came through LUANAR and MZUNI where 32 youths applied and 21 got selected to do different short courses. Of the 21 students, 7 went to LUANAR to study Commercial food processing which opened to them an opportunity they never had before. The nature of the course the students were doing prompted the philanthropy committee to connect the youth to Mdunga-Kasiya Cooperative; a community-based factory in the area that was producing milk from Soya beans. “It was imperative to connect the youth to the cooperative for more practical knowledge and exposure to the community for market benefits,” says Philanthropy Chairperson.

The youth quickly did a market assessment of the products and introduced Yoghurt making which has a wider market demand and made MK115,000.00 from their first production and used the money to procure more raw materials while a smaller amount was used to maintain worn-out machines for easy production. The production skills of the youths made the cooperative owners get inspired and brought in more raw materials for more production. The cooperative chairperson was all praise to have the learners within the team. ‘We are very happy to have young people who are doing tertiary education in our team. This is an opportunity for our cooperative to learn advanced skills from these youths,’ The cooperative is now serving its purpose, contributing to the nutritional value of the community while providing a market to local soya farmers and dairy cattle, explained the chairperson, Mr. Sabili Banda.

He added that initially, the cooperative was dormant, a story that changed with the coming in of the students.

Some of the yogurt produced by the students

“We were unable to mobilize resources for food processing for longer periods hence our machines started developing faults due to its idleness” added the cooperative chair.

The students helped the cooperate largely by mobilizing their resources and starting the production of milk and Yoghurt thereby maintaining the processing machine. The cooperative followed suit and were able to mobilize resources as well to continue producing.

The cooperative has provided the youth with an opportunity of interacting with the market and appreciates the market forces and needs whilst in class, hence positioning themselves for greater livelihood skills. Speaking on behalf of the students, Davie Nkhoma was thankful for the opportunity to have walked through the University through the short course with LUANAR.

‘The cooperative has opened our economic eyes; we are now making money out of the skills we have gotten from our courses. Through our interaction with our elders with the cooperative, we are also benefiting a lot since all of them are business people, hence mentoring us to become better entrepreneurs in the future.’ explained Davie Nkhoma one of the students. These students have become role models to their friends as well as the community hence inspiring more to enroll in such courses.


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