It can be all too easy to forget about life on the other side of the world - to get wrapped up in the daily commute, or university deadlines; the school run, and who’s doing what and where over the weekend.  

But it’s worth popping your head outside of the bubble to remember the impact you can make far from home...

Thousands of miles away from Orbis Expeditions’ headquarters in Devon, UK, is Malawi.  Landlocked by Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique, the country’s friendly and diverse people has earned Malawi the nickname “The Warm Heart of Africa”.

Malawi is welcoming, colourful, and breathtakingly beautiful - but there is much work to be done in the name of equality and progress.

The International Monetary Fund states that Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world.

Equal Measures’ 2019 Global Report 2019 found Malawi to rank a lowly 106th out of 129 countries in an assessment of gender equality.

 

So what are we doing about inequality in Malawi?  

Orbis Expeditions has a sister company - The Responsible Safari Company (RSC).  

Owned by Kate and Dom, RSC is an eight-strong, all-Malawian team based out of Blantyre.  RSC acts as our on-the-ground logistics team for all of Orbis Expeditions’ trips to Africa...

...and it’s through these expeditions that we are proud to be addressing inequality in Malawi.

Neither Orbis or RSC is a charity.  Based on Kate and Dom’s decade-long experience of working and living in Africa, as well as Kate’s MA in Education and International Development, our mission remains steadfast: to empower Malawians through trade, not aid.

We believe that inequality in Malawi can be most sustainably addressed by building up local enterprises.  A key part of this? Our skill-sharing trips focused on development initiatives, such as the upcoming September 2019 Women’s Empowerment trip.

A skill sharing session with Malawian entrepreneurs in Blantyre

How our expeditions benefit local entrepreneurs

“First of all let me say thank you for your endless efforts and guidance, during the time you were in Malawi, to the phone mentoring we had.”

That’s a quote from Mwaishah Kampesi, who recently emailed explaining her progress in the past year - in part thanks to our May 2018 Women’s Challenge team.

Mwai took part in one of our entrepreneurs' skill sharing days at RSC’s headquarters in Blantyre.

“I learnt to brand, market, bookkeeping, product costing and development. Most of all, your effort helped me transition the enterprise from a development stage to a fully functional production workshop…”

Mwaishah Kampesi's bag production workshop

So what exactly is Mwai’s product?  In her own words:

A schoolbag with a solar panel, to improve the education of young schoolchildren from rural, non-electrified areas which make up 93% of the country.

Using the lamp, children can now comfortably study after dark and the light can light up to 9 hours.

The bags [are] made from recycled plastic waste, [so are not only] functional but they also serve the intended need as a child-friendly carrier. The rural poor children use rice sacks or plastic bags to take their things to school, so the bag [also gives] dignity.

Although individuals also buy the bags, our main target is mainly Non-governmental organisations, Government sector, private sector companies that can buy in bulk and distribute to local community schools.

 

Mwaishah Kampesi's Abwezi bag 

What’s next for entrepreneur Mwai?

Well, her email contained some incredible news:

On a side note proud to let you know that we have been recognized amongst one [of] 54 women in Africa with [an] innovation to present in Morocco on 23rd June 2019.  I am so excited to expose the bag to another platform.

 

Everyone at Orbis and RSC wishes Mwai well with the upcoming presentation - but there are ways we can all help:

Being in operation and having introduced the Abwezi bag to the market for sale has received positive feedback and demand is growing each day. We are able to produce 5 bags a day but we would love to scale up to at least 40 a day.

We are working in looking for partners, organizations and well wishers to buy our bag to distribute for free.

 

$23 is the price to allow a donation of the Abwezi bag.  As Mwai said,

“With only $23 you help light up a home, give a child dignity, create jobs empowering Malawian women and reduce plastic waste pollution.”

If you know of anyone who may be interested in donating an Abwezi bag, or have a contact which may be able to partner with Mwai to further scale up development, please get in touch on info@orbis-expeditions.com.

  

Will you play your part in addressing inequality in Malawi?

Our Women’s Empowerment September Expedition is now available to book on to.

Join a small group of women in journeying to the warm heart of Africa.  Your experiences will not only benefit the local pupils and business owners you meet, but the whole team will leave Africa changed for the better.

Here’s a quick summary of the expedition:

  • Women in Business Skills Sharing Workshops
  • Workshops plus Village Homestay Initiative
  • Village Homestay plus travel to Wildlife Safari
  • Wildlife Safari plus travel to Lake Malawi
  • Lake Malawi Secondary School Workshops
  • Lake Malawi Secondary School Workshops

For more information, go to: https://www.orbis-skills.com/womens-empowerment

 

If you’re not looking for a trip anytime soon, keep up with us on social media!

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