Greetings from Sri lanka everyone!
As our Executive Director in Malawi says, “Change is a seed of slow growth” and in this light 2015 has been an important year for Empower Projects. It is a year in which we received tax deductibility status in Australia, effectively doubled the size of our team in Malawi and most importantly, made large strides across our projects in Malawi – both in Kapita and Mpamba. All the product of an emergent process tracing back to 2010!
What happened in Kapita in 2015?
In Kapita a 2nd Earthship build took place to train community members in sustainable architecture techniques. This was a great success and thanks to a successful crowdfunding campaign, the community center will be completed by a local team in Feb 2016! The building will house a preschool, community bank, library, clinic and meeting rooms and mark a poetic end to our development collaborations with the region. The region now has the infrastructure to house local development initiatives.
Related to the community center, your support ensured that we successfully raised funds to support the establishment of Kapita’s first preschool. 3 members of the community have completed an extensive 2 week training program and 50 students will form the first enrollment in Jan 2016!
The Kapita COMSIP (Community Bank)has expanded its membership to over 35 members and is growing on a monthly basis. Over 20 businesses have been supported to date and with success comes a growing base of community members interested in becoming members of this cooperative. Edmond Banda is but a single example of the impact this project continues to have in the region.
Permaculture efforts in Kapita have taken a quantum leap since the initial training sessions in 2011. We now have our very own consultant, Tina Sosten, and she has spent several months working alongside Kapita Primary School and lead farmers in the region to improve local know how with regard to organic agricultural practices. This has lead to over 20 senior farmers adopting organic practices on their plots, the establishment of a nursery with over 200 trees for reforestation efforts and the quadrupling of the primary school’s garden from 1 acre to 4 acres. Permaculture is catching on and we’re thrilled!
What happened in Mpamba in 2015?
Our project in Mpamba, Nkhata Bay started in January this year. Starting with a Vision Workshop to chart the region’s development priorities and ground the need for a community bank – formally called Timbiri Savings and Credit Cooperative.
Much of the year has involved deep community engagement to train community members on the cooperative model, developing policies and facilitating the democratic election of a board. Following this two professional staff (a manager and an admin officer) were hired by our team to work in concert with the board. This will be a 2 year arrangement until the cooperative is able to sustain this cost.
As it stands Empower Malawi has invested AUD 8,000 as a principal investment (to be recovered interest-free) in the Timbiri SACCO and over 350 community members have joined the cooperative to date. This cooperative will have an official launch in Jan 2016 and we expect membership numbers to grow to 500 by the end of the first quarter. Expect to start hearing stories from the ground about the impact these business and agricultural loans are having on households across this region. A big thank you to Reho Travel and Opportunity2Do for their tremendous support across 2015. Their support has ensured that our team has been well resourced to support the Timbiri SACCO through this critical startup phase.
What’s in store in 2016?
While we are taking a well deserved break from operations over the next two weeks, we are incredibly excited! Here’s a whiff of what you can expect in 2016.
Projects in Malawi
We will be making a gradual exit from the Kapita region in 2016. This will be marked by the completion of the Earthship community center, the establishment of the aforementioned preschool, the completion of eco-sanitation, water harvesting and a meal program at Kapita Primary. Our team will continue to monitor progress across other locally led permaculture and community bank action plans.
The Timbiri Savings and Credit Cooperative will be formally launched in Jan 2016 and we expect to see considerable growth in membership and capital across the year. Our role will largely be one of monitoring and capturing impact – so expect lots of stories!
Meanwhile, we are currently exploring the development of a social enterprise arm in Malawi …watch this space.
Projects in Sri Lanka
You may have noticed that I mentioned I was in Sri Lanka. We have been scoping possibilities in Sri Lanka across the 2nd half of 2015. I’ve been on the ground visiting 2 short-listed locations and you can expect to hear more about our efforts to support livelihood development in war-affected regions.
Developments in Australia
In Australia, we will have a lot to look forward to. We are in the process of developing our very first public campaign. Aimed at raising awareness and raising funds for our efforts in Malawi, we hope to launch this campaign within the 1st half of 2016. We are looking to make this a global campaign so that anyone reading this post can participate!
Another exciting event in 2016 will be our 5 year gala event in April! We will be celebrating 5 years of impact and our Executive Director in Malawi – Jones Ntaukira will be with our team in Australia to celebrate!
So that’s it. A great year comes to a close and an exciting new one is about to dawn. We are so grateful for the continuous support we have received from our tribe over the years. It is thanks to your encouragement and support that we have shifted ideas on paper to impact on the ground.
Over and Out,