Dreams of Tiwale are finally taking shape, owing largely to the $20 000 (K14.7 million) grand prize that the founder won when she was named 2017 Glamour Magazine’s College Woman of the year.
Ellen Chilemba, 23, founded Tiwale when she was 18. Tiwale is a community-based organisation that works with women that dropped out of school.
Upon receipt of the money, earlier this year, she said she would invest in completing Tiwale women’s centre for education and entrepreneurship which was under construction at Mtsiliza in Lilongwe.
Time has come to inaugurate the centre. “This is a milestone in our mission to help women reach their full potential. This space will revolutionise the status of women at Mtsiliza, then Lilongwe, then Malawi and eventually Africa.
“I couldn’t be more humbled by our dedicated community members, team and supporters who have been patient with our small, but rising organisation,” Chilemba stated in an email.
On top of that, the founder said starting in January, the centre will be offering three programmes; educational, skills training and job creation.
“Tiwale community members can enroll for reading and writing classes offered three times a week at the women’s centre. We have previously sponsored scholars, we will continue with our scholarship programme for secondary school. Eventually, after we build our four classrooms next year, we will offer scholarship-based secondary school classes,” she explained.
Added: “Every Friday, we will continue offering vocation skills training classes in tie-dyeing, sewing, cooking and candle-making. With more funding, these programmes will be offered more regularly- three times a week,” she added.
Tiwale is also sourcing markets for products produced in the skills training program (three to six months) and production will afford some of Tiwale women employment.
According to the founder, her award funds have helped Tiwale to buy additional land to build four blocks of classrooms in 2018.
While pursuing her leadership and entrepreneurship workshops at African Leadership Academy (ALA) in South Africa, Chilemba started brainstorming with a couple of peers on contributing to access to education.
“Microfinance at the time seemed like the best initiative to tackle some of the challenges women were facing. And, so, I gathered a team of five young people between 14 and 19 years old, together we started Tiwale,” explained Chilemba.
Tiwale initially started as a small summer project to help ten women start a businessm, but quickly transitioned into a community based organisation after 150 women showed up on their first meeting.
Over the years, the centre has hosted business education workshops and aided 40 women to start small business through the interest-free loans that are offered.