In Malawi money is raised by selling Chanasa products in Malawi outlets and at school fairs; and through grants. In Malawi women earn money by making the products and also by using their skills to make other items sold locally such as school uniforms. Profits are used to educate women. Chanasa is supported by Chifundo UK who pay for a Development Manager and Promotions Officer who works for 30 hours a week. Chifundo also pay the fees for women to do tailoring courses at the Beehive Tailoring School in Chilomoni, Blantyre. It is planned that Chifundo will sponsor scholarships in tertiary education for girls and women. Chanasa became a registered association in Malawi in April 2014 and is registered with the NGO Board in Malawi.
The groups are open to any woman and groups are encouraged not to be one church based. The only criteria is that the women must be unemployed. The women make sustainable products, using recycled denim and cotton mixed with African fabrics and are paid a fair wage which is approximately twice that of the minimum wage, so it is a FairTrade organisation. The women share the money equally amongst them. Two of the groups meet in churches and the third in a Women’s Centre. There is an Annual General Meeting and a six monthly meeting of a more informal nature for all the women. Their transport costs are paid and refreshments provided by Chifundo. All groups have been given Seed money by Chifundo to enable them to develop as small businesses.
The Ndirandi Women's Group has ten women who belong to it.
Here is Esnart from the Ndirandi group. She has a certificate from the Beehive Tailoring School. She is married to Wilford and has two daughters called Chikondi and Quaen. She managed to buy a sewing machine and is helping the other women in the Ndirandi Group to improve their sewing.
The Chilomoni Women's Group has 12 women members and three women who are qualified as tailors.
The Soche East Women's Group has eight women members.
Here is a photo of Ephnes who is a member of the Soche East Women's Group. She is married to Gift Kamdende. They have three children called Priscilla, Necia and Tiyamike. The Vinyos helped Ephnes by buying her a sewing machine. Her role is to help the other women to improve their sewing.
There is also a group of three tailors who work in the Cholomoni area. They make some of the more complicated products and design new products as well. The picture is of Constance and Annette, unfortunately the third tailor Susan was unwell at the time.
Esther Mndala is our new Development Manager. She has taken over from Annie Chisala who has left to take up another job. Esther is employed by Chanasa in Malawi to support the three women's groups and the three tailors. Her role is to support and develop the groups to enable them to make quality products and to find markets for them in Malawi. Esther works half time for Chanasa.
Esther visits the outlets in Malawi to collect and deliver orders and is having meetings with colleges and universities to try to gain more orders following on from the success of the College of Medicine order. She then visits the groups to distribute the orders and then collects the finished products and organises payments for the women. Chanasa has received a grant from the Irish Embassy for the purpose of renting a room for an office in Soche East Women's Centre. This is set up and is a base for Esther to work from.
At the present time the outlets for Chanasa products in Lilongwe, the capital, are the Four Seasons Garden Centre, La Galleria and Frissons in the Woodlands Hotel.. In Blantyre the outlets are: African Habitat and Sonic Fashion. Chanasa has completed a large order for the College of Medicine - bags, bow ties, ties, scarves, serviettes, table runners and 350 chair covers. Meetings are ongoing with the Polytechnic in Blantyre and MUST (Malawi University of Science and Technology) and other institutions from which we hope to secure future orders. The Ministry of Gender have ordered 50 bags.