The Malawi National
Commission for UNESCO and Consol Homes organised a 10 days Entrepreneurship training for 80 vulnerable youth around TA Kalolo in Lilongwe funded by UNESCO. Self Help Groups (SHG) National Trainers were the main facilitators with four others supporting them with the life skills topics. The training, which was held at the Consol Homes’ Mphandula Orphan Care Center premises in TA Kalolo targeted youth who are disadvantaged by different circumstances drawn from villages around TA Kalolo. The youth were organized into four Self Help Groups of 20 members each. It ran from Monday, August 28, to Saturday, September 9, 2017.
The objectives of the training were: to build capacity in entrepreneurship and Self-Help Group management to the 80 vulnerable youth and; to impart life skills among the vulnerable youth in areas such as leadership, human rights, gender, HIV/AIDS and a culture of peace to mention a few. At the end of the training a Self-Help Group Entrepreneurial Skills Training Manual was developed and published. The groups were then guided by Consol Homes for four months to build-up capital in their respective groups through their own contributions. The contributions ranged from MK200.00 to MK500.00 kwacha each which some of them paid from the small incidental allowances they received during the training.
On 12th February, 2018, the Malawi National Commission for UNESCO and Consol Homes invited the groups again to launch the Kalolo Vulnerable Youth Entrepreneurship Revolving Fund and presented a cheque of MK1, 300, 000.00 to the groups which was a contribution towards the capital which the groups had already built up through the self help group approach. During this function, the four groups testified how they built up their capital using the knowledge gained in the training. From as little as MK2, 000.00 initial contributions in some groups and MK4, 000.00 in others they were able to build their funds to as much as MK300,000.00 by Mphandula group over the four to five months through borrowing and paying back with interest as agreed in the group’s rules and regulations. The lowest capital raised was about MK100, 000.00 by Liwinga group.
During the event to launch the fund officiated by Mr. Wilford Palani the District Commissioner of Lilongwe, the Acting Executive Secretary of Malawi National Commission for UNESCO Mr. Emmanuel Kondowe said that they had learnt from what happened in 2008 when the traditional method was used of giving the youth some funds up-front to invest in small businesses with the idea of them repaying the money so that it becomes a revolving fund. The youth never paid back the money. He said, “This time around we have used the SHG approach which we have seen to be more effective in ensuring that the youth take entrepreneurship very seriously. You have heard for yourself how they have managed to build their capital from as little as MK4, 000.00 to MK300, 000.00 in one of the groups, it’s almost a miracle. It shows that there is potential in these young people, we only need to give them opportunities and skills. The commitment demonstrated by the youth over the past four to five months is awesome and we made good our promise to add to their capital if they demonstrated such commitment”. In his speech Mr. Palani said, “This project is supporting Government effort to build community technical colleges to impart skills in the youth for development of entrepreneurship and we applaud UNESCO for this initiative. We hope other institutions can emulate this example which has demonstrated that it works. It is very clear from what we have seen that the lives of these young men and women have changed from the time we saw them when we opened the training in September 2017”. In his remarks the Director of Consol Homes, Mr. Phillip Chapomba requested the DC to consider including the Self Help Group approach in the district development plans so that more youth can be reached. He suggested that part of the Local Development Fund can be used for this noble cause. Since September 2018 Consol Homes has been monitoring progress of the groups and by March 2019 the groups were still functional and their capital growing so that they are able to borrow lager amounts each, upwards of MK70,000.00 per person.