TINGATHE EMPOWERING YOUTH THROUGH DREAM CENTRES
Imagine, being one of the many 17-year-old school drops outs amongst 50,000 people living in a peri-urban area. Would your dream survive the challenges of living in a high population density area, trying to make a living amid high rates of unemployment, with the potential of becoming another statistic of high school drop-out rate? These are factors common in areas such as Mtandile, Senti, Piyesani, Mtsiliza, Chinsapo and M’gona, where some of the most disadvantaged youth in the country live in.
So how do you build value chains and relationships that create an environment for the youth to thrive within their communities? Tingathe comes in with the vision to create a society where peri-urban youth are empowered, influential and economically independent. Tingathe, meaning “We Can” in Chichewa, one of Malawi’s local dialects, is truly living up to its name through its various initiatives and partnerships. Transforming one student life at a time through investing in people’s passions and talent in communities across Malawi. Tingathe provides centers where young people’s dreams come to life.
The second and newest of their locations is the Tingathe Dreams Warehouse, located directly across from Gateway Mall. It will be the training center for Tingathe Training Program (TTP), Tingathe’s flagship vocational skills training program. The center is equipped with spaces specific to each of the seven courses they offer, namely agribusiness, carpentry, construction, cosmetology, arts and crafts, fashion and design, and hospitality and service management. It also has a large open-space suitable for students training in the TTP’s compulsory “core” courses, like business management, human rights, and sexual and reproductive health, which every student is required to take. The center now has the capacity to take on more students than in previous cohorts.
By equipping the youth to lead as change-makers and champions who can create their own wealth and shape their own lives, Tingathe’s mission to empower youth in peri-urban areas with marketable vocational skills, seed funding and mentorship is coming to life.
The new Tingathe Dreams Warehouse also hosts monthly community discussions open to the public at a small entry fee with up to 4 panelists tackling current issues and the audiences actively participating. The #MeToo Movement in Malawi was the hot topic in February, “Fake News” in Malawi & the rest of the world graced their March gathering, up next for discussion in April is the economic and social relationship between China and Malawi. Certainly, a topic to keep an eye on.
Lastly, their center serves as a great space for events, especially music events because of its open space and good acoustics. Earlier this year, Pa Khonde, a Malawian performing arts ensemble hosted one of their acoustic music sessions. And on March 31st, they will be hosting a “Paint & Sip” afternoon of drinks and art lessons to attendees. More on that on their social media pages (Instagram: @TingatheMalawi and Tingathe on Facebook).
Taking on the big task of creating an organization that invests in people’s passions and talents and partnering up with various communities is no easy feat. Budgetary constraints limit Tingathe’s allocation of funds, as they partly rely on volunteers to assist in the running of their programs. As a result, fundraising initiatives, donations and making new partnerships are on the line up for some of its activities this year to address funding issues.
Tingathe partners up with young people by recruiting those between 18 and 30 years old. With the 7 courses to choose from, the students are trained and thereafter assigned work placements or assisted in starting their own businesses. These services are offered free of charge to students and help to make real change in students’ lives through skills development and wealth creation for them to become self-sufficient.
Tingathe’s partnership with the Segal Family Foundation helps to keep its programs running and assists in a wide variety of areas related to capacity building. Their “Our Shared Goal” program brings together partnerships with the British Council, Play Football, the Zikomo Foundation and M-Hub. The program hopes to tackle the issue of gender based violence in communities by educating children/young people about social responsibility and healthy gender relationships through sport.
Tingathe is also in partnership with Welt Hunger Hilfe in providing robust training to vulnerable youth through making capital investments, such as machinery, to improve the curriculum of its TTP program. A recent partnership with Airtel Money this year, makes available K6 million start up capital for Tingathe’s Mitchana ya Geni loan program. Graduates with solid business ideas are given start up capital and mentoring after their business plans have made it through the rigorous approval procedure. Then capital is accessed in installments at the achievement of specific goals and milestones, providing hands on training on how to start and manage their own businesses.
Some of Tingathe’s wins are seeing the dreams of its student come to life. One of Tingathe’s cosmetology graduates from their 2017 cohorts now runs a successful salon in Chinsapo. She earns enough to afford private school for her child, run her business and save money. She will be receiving another loan to expand her business.
Many students from Tingathe’s 168 graduates to date are starting businesses in their own communities. Their progress is monitored through bi-weekly evaluation surveys which include site visits, collecting information pertaining to the progress of their businesses and providing advice where necessary. Those not engaged in their own start-ups are put in work placements, some have found work in and around Lilongwe, mainly in the hospitality or construction sector. Regular follow ups on the living standards and progress of students who graduated from Tingathe Training Program are also a part of the bi-weekly evaluation which contributes to the effectiveness of their programs.