FROM UNEMPLOYED TO EMPLOYING OTHERS AND PAYING SCHOOL FEES
Jane Kabzera, a 20 years old young lady, is a living example of the positive outcomes of empowering women in business knowledge and entrepreneurship skills. Jane joined Student Driven Solutions in 2017 when her parents failed to pay her school fees for her first year of plumbing courses at Lilongwe Technical College. Once she had to leave her studies, she started to work in a beauty salon. Her parents earn a living from farming.
Jane was participating in SDS activities while she was working at the salon, which gave her the idea to start her own. She presented her idea together with the business plan and was given a loan of 175,000MK to start in September 2017. From that day her life changed completely. Through her business she managed to raise her plumbing school fees and now she is doing her plumbing course at Lilongwe Technical. She is currently in her second year. Apart from school fees, Jane has also managed to do groundnuts farming. She has employed two ladies in her saloon. Additionally, she has bought laptop for her studies.
Jane’s story does not only show how financial literacy can change the life of a young women but also that doing business is not a goal in its own but rather a means to achieve the dreams of the future, like acquiring a certain education.
STUDENTS TAKE THE LEAD ON CONSTRUCTION OF MORE CLASSROOMS
One group of 2017’s Girls Empowered cohort conducted a community engagement project to construct a new school block. It was a campaign where the students were urging community members to take action on the challenges the community was facing. Through the research on challenges the group conducted it was found that there are too few classrooms at Mwatibu Primary School. Mwatibu Primary School is where the Girls Empowered Project takes place in Nathenje. It is one of the many schools in Malawi which do not have enough classrooms to fit all its students. Almost 6 classes learn under trees. The group presented their idea on how to solve this in the form of a play which took place on the closing day of the school year. This was a good day to reach out to parents and the school committee members who were already planning to attend the closing ceremony. Chiefs were invited by SDS students since they are leaders.
The play was about the disadvantages of learning under a tree. It was an interactive play and it involved the chiefs, parents and the school committees at the end of the play. In the play the students encouraged the community not to wait for government, organizations and Members of Parliament to build the school blocks for them. Instead the community should work together and build the school blocks. Today, months after the play took place, Mwatibu Primary School has several new classrooms thanks to the SDS students’ initiative.
THE STORY OF KAUMA’S OWN FASHION DESIGNER
Veronica is a 21 years old women who joined SDS as a student in 2015. By the time she joined, she had no hope for the future. Veronica wanted to venture into business because she knew that her parents couldn’t afford to pay for tertiary education. Therefore, she did not hesitate when she heard about the Girls Empowered project. She knew this was her chance to get the capital. Within the training period, Veronica found the business idea from the market research she conducted in her area. After the Girl Empowered training, Veronica started a sewing materials business. Since she was the only one who was selling sewing materials in her community, things were working out for her. She used the profit to invest in her business, and the business expanded.
Running a sewing material business motivated Veronica to study fashion design. Since she was reinvesting all the profit in her business she lacked resources to pay for a fashion design course. She was therefore granted a scholarship from SDS. With the scholarship, Veronica did her fashion design course at DAPP in Dowa district. Now she is able to make things such as bags, note book wrapping, back packs and many more. According to Veronica SDS has given her a future because she is able to generate an income from the knowledge she gained at DAPP through SDS.
MAYAMIKO TELLS US ABOUT HER SDS EXPERIENCE
“Today we were graduating for the financial literacy course we have been taking. I was awarded the leadership award. I think I was awarded as a leader because when we were carrying a project on empowering girls not to engage in early sexual relationship I was the one who was leading the team so I think that’s the reason why I was given the award. I learned that a leader has to be patient and understanding and tolerant to other people. I hope the girls who saw our play are going to change because I saw that they are really including what they have learned in the essays they wrote. So that makes me think that they really understand what we were teaching them. I feel good because it is always my wish to help my fellow girls to empower them so I feel good that I am now in the process of helping others. I will continue to help other girls. I am also going to encourage others to help with me. At my home village there is a lot of prostitution so I wish I could change that. The only support I know can be financially so that I can start that.
To the next group of SDS students, I will encourage them to be patient, attentive, and punctual. I hope they interact because Student Driven Solutions as I know is all about interaction. I just want to thank Rebecca so that you should continue with this program. I’m so proud of you for starting this program because you are helping some young ladies like us who can’t manage to go do some business courses at different colleges. You have really helped us.”
CLEMENT UDEDI ON WHY HE JOINED THE SDS BOARD OF ADVISORS
“As a board member I provide technical advise on how best we can implement our activities. The biggest question you may ask is why did I get involved. The story started five years ago. I have a daughter. She’s five. As a country, culturally, there’s a preference for boys. I think you would agree with me people would say you should have started with a boy. For me I said but there’s potential in every child. That changed my perception in terms of how I look at the world. I said I will prove that all children have equal potential as long as they’re given the same chances. When SDS came I felt that whatever they are doing is in line with the passion that I have for my daughter. I wanted to join the board because SDS is empowering girls in financial literacy and I believe those kinds of skills will help us to make a change in our community. Because its not just about what we are doing here. But when we go back, we need to impact our community. We need to be leaders in our community.”
ISHA GOMANI ON WHY SHE IS A PROUD SDS ALUMNI
“I am happy to be graduated. I was a student of Student Driven Solutions. Today I received an award for my good attendance. I am very happy. I am going to do a business so I will be able to help my community and my family of 9 children. Student Driven Solutions is a program that teaches girls on financial literacy and business skills. As of now I have learned so much skills on business like how to save, how to attract customers, and so many others. The next girls coming to the SDS program should work hard. They should attend all the classes so they get more skills.”
ISHA’S MOM SPEAKS ABOUT SDS
“I came to the loan awarding ceremony because I was interested in the program so I wanted to witness what has started as it was going to an end. I am expecting to see the growth of my daughter’s business because you people have taught them well. We need to make sure the girls take this seriously because they are new to the business so we will just have to encourage them in one way or another.”
A LOCAL CHIEF SPEAKS ABOUT HOW SDS HAS IMPACTED HER COMMUNITY
“I came to the loan awarding ceremony to witness the presentation of businesses to our girls. The program was great. I wasn’t expecting this. Now that I see what the girls have received I am expecting the girls’ businesses to progress. This is something I don’t take for granted. The SDS program will help those girls in need for support. Because they are starting businesses they will be helping others.”
ELLEN MPHAYA’S JOURNEY WITH SDS
Since joining Student Driven Solutions, Ellen has opened a bank account. Now, she invests small amounts of money in her bank account so that her money can grow. When she gets an allowance from her parents, she puts the money away so that she can use her money to achieve her long-term goals. Ellen says she enjoys learning about how to organize her income and expenses and how to save for the future.
Ellen said that she has learned how to voice out about issues in the village and help the chief better understand what is happening in the community. She told us that the mentors have encouraged her to continue her school and set goals. She is thankful to the teachers for serving as role models and encouraging her.
After every lesson Ellen goes home to tell her mom and dad what she learned at Student Driven Solutions. Her mom said that she can see the change in her daughter since enrolling in the program. She says she loves the program because she can see that Ellen is more passionate about school. Her mom noted, “These girls are becoming better human beings because of the program. they are going far and giving back to the community.”
Ellen hopes to open a business selling clothes imported from Tanzania. She wants to make these products accessible to her community and she sees and opportunity for the growing business. She said that she is more confident in her ability to open the shop because of the skills she has learned at Student Driven Solutions. She says, “I know I can handle the business wisely.”
LET’S MEET SOME SDS STUDENTS:
Anarister is a Malindi alumini of the class of 2014. When she was in school, her favorite subject was English. She believes education is important because it changes a person’s illiteracy and helps her to get a job in future. Anarister stays with her Grandmother, her sister Yvonne and her brother Precious. Her favorite things to do are cooking, washing and going to the market. She is working hard to have a better future and help her relatives. Anarister said, “Student Driven Solutions and Little Big Prints help me to be able to develop families and the society.”
Anastanzia is a Form 3 student at Malindi. She stays with her parents and 10 siblings. She walks to school everyday, a distance of about 45 minutes. Her favorite subject is Chichewa and she says she is working hard towards being a nurse. In her free time Anastanzia likes reading and eating good food. Anastanzia says, “I feel lucky to be a part of LBP and SDS because I learn different things every week that are helpful to me as a girl child and a citizen of Malawi.” Thank you Anastanzia for sharing your story!
Mary is a Form 4 student at Malindi. She stays with her mom and her three siblings in Chikanda. Her favorite subject is English. She is working hard so she can get selected into the University of Malawi. She wants to be a lecturer or a police officer. She wants to work very hard to go to University because she has had difficulties in her schooling but she perseveres. She walks long distances to get to school and she says conditions in her home are unhygienic due to poverty. When she is not studying, she loves to play with her friends. When asked about how she feels about LBP and SDS she said, “I appreciate the mentors because they inspire me to do better so I can be like them.” Thank you Mary for sharing your story!
MR PHIRI ON WHY HE BELIEVES IN SDS
Meet Mr. Joseph Phiri, one of our SDS teachers. Mr. Phiri teaches Chichewa and Bible Knowledge to Form 1 and 4 at Malindi. He has been teaching since 1993. He began teaching at the Primary school level and then switched to Secondary school after finishing his degree at the Domasi College of Education. He has also received a Bachelors in Theology from Chancellor College. Mr. Phiri always knew he wanted to be a teacher. His mother and two sisters are teachers. To him, it happened naturally. He said, “I wanted to be a teacher to help my country in educating the young ones.” According to Phiri, “his heart is for the young people.” He is married to Constance and has four sons. He is a pastor for the Christ Citadel International Church.
When asked about Student Driven Solutions, this is what he said:
“This program is good. Of course, it is quite challenging because it is being introduced for the first time in this school. But, I believe we can encourage these girls to inculcate responsibility. Young people often expect the governments to solve their problems. This program changes the mindset. It teaches students that they can come up with the solutions for their community and their country. Among the girls who were selected from the program, some of the girls are from problematic backgrounds in the sense that some of them had to dropout due to early pregnancy but we are optimistic that this program will help them change their mindset and also it will encourage them so that they can forget the past and move forward. We chose them deliberately, considering their backgrounds. We believe this program will transform them. They will develop that responsibility to do something for the community, for the nation, and for themselves. The chief said that she is excited about this program because she sees leaders in the girls that are going to be trained. And it is our plea that this program should continue next year. You shouldn’t let us down. We need your support.”