Newly appointed Malawi Scotland Partnership (MaSP) chief executive officer Vera Kamtukule says she will advance the development of vulnerable, isolated and impoverished communities in the country.
Kamtukule plans to achieve this by strengthening existing and new civil society links with Scotland through advocacy, capacity building and coordination of effort.
“By drawing on the energies of the MaSP team, its members, promoting leadership and meaningful partnerships, we will create a coordinating hub for Malawian organisations linked with Scotland.
“Further, MaSP will leverage partnerships to provide advocacy, training and capacity building, resulting in less duplication, sharing of relevant skills, experience and the establishment of a resource base for vulnerable and isolated communities to be better equipped to counter poverty,” she explains.
Her appointment, she says, is both an honour and an opportunity to raise the profile of the work that civil society organisations (CSOs), companies and individuals with links to Scotland are doing.
Kamtukule adds that this appointment also signifies the opening of a door for the Scottish Government and its citizens to maximise on the 158-year-old relationship the two nations have enjoyed.
MaSP is an independent national umbrella organisation which exists to inspire the people and organisations of Malawi to be involved with Scotland in an informed, coordinated and effective way for the benefit of both nations.
It was established in 2005 under the Company’s Act. Among other objectives, MaSP is there to support the coordination of Malawi’s links with Scotland, contribute to effective advocacy and enhance the capacity of civil society organisations in the country.
The new CEO was born in Blantyre at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH). Third born in a family of six children, she is married to Edson Kamtukule and together they have two children, Tamanda and Talandila.
She admits that the life of a working mother and a wife is generally tough, but is quick to say that it all lies in the planning of work and activities.
“Without proper planning and prioritising, it is almost impossible to fully commit in these diverse roles. But I must say, with God’s help all things are possible and I am able to divide my time and manage it effectively. I have an understanding and loving husband without whose help I could not have achieved what I have managed at this stage in my life,” she says.
Kamtukule’s late father came from Dowa and her mother is from Nkhata Bay.
She was raised mostly by her mother and her grandmother from the age of nine.
Her father passed away as she was writing her end of year examinations in first year at Chancellor College.
She says: “I come from a family which is highly supportive and that always pushed me to be better.”
The new broom at the helm of MaSP has a Master of Science Degree in Strategic Management obtained from the University of Derby (UK). She also has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Humanities from Chancellor College, a Professional Diploma in Marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM, UK) and a Post Graduate Diploma in Land Management and Informal Settlement Regularisation from Erasmus University, Netherlands.
She has more than 12 years experience in programme management at senior levels from working with local non-governmental organisations (NGOs), public sector and donor organisations.
Kamtukule is also a skilled writer and has authored a book on the ‘Supply and Demand of Housing in Malawi’.
She also established Patch Malawi Limited, a social enterprise which works in disenfranchised poor urban communities on issues of youth development, education, women empowerment and promotion of the rights of vulnerable people in society.
“Patch is a social enterprise that was set up to balance and strengthen linkages among social, economic as well as psychological needs of people in Malawi. Poverty in the country is characterised by the lack of productive means to fulfill basic needs such as food, water, shelter, education and health.
“The enterprise’s business model is founded on the premise that there is potential for greatness in every human being and this is used to motivate people to achieve their fullest potential in whatever they do,” she explains.
She notes that due to the mismatch between the country’s education system and the ever changing needs and demands of the labour market; most people, especially young persons, even those with a formal education are unemployable.
Kamtukule adds that Patch Malawi, therefore, offers a refreshing approach to life by nurturing and supporting people’s skills to help them perform better in their jobs as well as create sustainable employment both for themselves and others.
According to her, the organisation provides enhanced critical and technical skills to improve performance. It also provides skills to help people manage the effects of various social ills.
The mother of two confesses that life comes with various challenges. She points out that for women in particular, such challenges are coupled with responsibilities of managing the home and raising children.
However, Kamtukule argues that it is not what life provides, but what anybody does with what comes their way that makes the difference between success and failure.
Girls are so dear to her heart and she believes it is the reason God blessed her with daughters.
As such, her advice to girls is: “When you overcome your greatest fear, that’s the day you start living and achieve anything. However, this comes at a price; you need to be disciplined, focused and consistent in everything”.
One of her closest friends, Tiwonge Gawa described her as someone who knows what she wants.
“And when she does, she goes at it with all of her heart and takes other people along because she has a way of making people see just how important that particular issue is.
“She is a hard worker and works for others as she would for her own family. She taught me how to share- this is one of her biggest marks on me. Above all she is wise,” says Gawa.