Congratulations to Ellen Chilemba the founder of Tiwali, a social enterprise in Malawi, for being one of the five winners of Ashoka's Future Forward: Youth Innovations for Employment in Africa challenge.
Ashoka announced on January 15 the five social entrepreneurs from sub-Saharan Africa, each under the age of 30, it has selected as winners of the Future Forward: Youth Innovations for Employment in Africa challenge. Their projects were evaluated by an expert panel of judges and chosen as the top solutions from a pool of close to 200 entries from across 25 sub-Saharan countries submitted between September 16, 2014, and November 5, 2014. One of the winners is a wonderful social enterprise from Malawi called Tiwali, founded by Ellen Chilemba, a young woman socialpreneur.
Ellen, now 20 has been a budding entrepreneur since her pre-teen years. She is trying to change the difficult circumstances of women in Malawi who deal with low primary school completion rates, low socio-economic status, higher than average rates of HIV and AIDS, and one of the world’s highest rates of maternal mortality through her for-profit social enterprise, Tiwale. Her venture has trained 150 women as entrepreneurs, while also offering grants, loans and lessons that can lead to empowerment and independence.
Specifically, Ellen's enterprise won for the Tiwale Design Project that trains women to do traditional fabric dye-printing. Some of the revenue from the sale of women’s handiwork is used to fund other programs offered by the organization that give women opportunities for self-sufficiency. These programs include a school grant program that covers fees, transportation costs, school supplies, and offers a small living stipend, plus the flagship microfinance loan program. Considering that many women in Malawi do wear African-styled fabrics, and yet most fabrics are imported, Tiwali introduced the dye-printing skill to the women of Ntsiriza community. The Design Project involves a group of 30 women undergoing a dye-print training program for a week. The women then work with their teacher to produce various patterns (usually ten). The patterns are dyed onto fabrics which are sold through our organization. 60% of the profit goes to the women who created the fabrics and the other 40 percent supports our organization’s initiatives such as our school grants program.
The five winning entrepreneurs were selected for meeting criteria for innovation, social impact and sustainability—are behind new solutions that enable young people to equip themselves with the 21st century skills to find, or create, more meaningful, stable, and long-term careers in a rapidly evolving marketplace. These young social entrepreneurs will each receive USD $1,500 in unrestricted funding to be used towards the implementation of the work described in their challenge entry and an all-expenses-paid trip to the Ashoka Changemakers Day on Youth Employment in Africa, which will kick-off the Globalizer Summit in Cape Town, South Africa, in February. There, they will receive training, support and visibility that is both critical to their growth and realizing the full impact of their social innovations.
Ashoka and The MasterCard Foundation launched the challenge as part of the Future Forward partnership, to find bold new ideas—for young people and by young people—that will address the big picture issues around youth employment in Africa.