Thoughts from category: andrew in malawi

India bound...

Every year, innocent gives one or two lucky employees the opportunity to go and work with one of the charities we support through our foundation, using some of our work skills. Those of you who've been reading this blog for a while may remember tales from Andrew in Malawi, JT in Kenya, or our Emilie in Ethopia.

Em in Ethiopia
Emilie in Ethiopia showing the bees who was boss

On Friday, I'll be following in their illustrious footsteps, lugging my camera and a notebook with me, as I head to India to work with disability charity ADD gathering materials for their fundraising and training needs. I'll be penning a few posts while I'm away but it sees only right that I do some introductions first...

ADD supports disabled people in 11 different countries across Africa and Asia to challenge disability discrimination. Their vision is to create a world where disabled people can enjoy their rights and participate in society as fully as they choose to, and we've been supporting the work that they do in India since April 2009.


Three quarters of the disabled population in India live in rural communities, and less than 2% receive any form of vocational training. ADD India works to educate people in the skills they need to earn a livelihood, and offers financial support through microloans- these are frequently used to boost incomes in India, but disabled people are generally excluded from these schemes.


The project that we're funding has so far delivered loans to over 200 people, enabling them to gain independence through their livelihood, and to participate more fully in the communities in which they live. Over the next few weeks, I'll be meeting a few of the people who have benefited from these loans, and be able to see first hand the impact that it has had not only on their lives, but on the lives of their families, who are often marginalised as well.


So there you are. Introductions done. I'd definitely recommend that you get to know them a bit better here, but if not, I'll be in touch shortly with some more info from the other side of the world.

an update from malawi


Last April, our Andrew D spent two weeks in Malawi, helping out the Microloan Foundation (one of the organisations supported by the innocent foundation).

A few weeks ago, I was on holiday in Malawi myself and was lucky enough to spend an afternoon with Joseph and Joseph from Microloan to see some of the great work they're continuing to do out there.

The Microloan Foundation provides small loans and business advice to women in Malawi and Zambi which allow these women to start up small businesses in their local communities, selling rice, tomatoes, bananas and so on.


The women then form small groups and are collectively responsible for re-paying the loans. This helps them learn about money management and means they receive a lump sum at the end with which to improve their family and community lifestyle.


One of the loan agreements

I met Joseph and Joseph in Rumphi, Northern Malawi, to attend a repayment meeting in a local village. These meetings take place fortnightly and each member of the group is expected to repay their share of the loan and make their savings.

Having driven for an hour along a dusty track, we were greeted with the sound of singing from the women, who were singing about how grateful they were to Microloan for improving their lives.


After the repayments had taken place, we then had a Q&A session where I got to find out how the opportunity to run their own businesses had affected their lives. All the women agreed unanimously that their lives had changed for the better as they were now able to provide for their families, without having to solely rely on their husbands for support.

Helen and friends

Annie told me that her biggest wish for next year was to save up enough money to buy a proper bed, instead of the mat she currently sleeps on.

Last year, Microloan made 22,000 loans to 11,000 women like Annie, helping them set up profitable businesses and accumulate around about £15 in savings each. £15 might not sound like a lot but these savings helped look after 66,000 dependents.

This year Microloan are looking to expand in Malawi, Zambia and Namibia with the aim of helping over 100,000 people work their way out of poverty by Christmas.

So hopefully, along with Microloan's support, Annie will be sleeping soundly and comfortably come December.

(Posted by Helen)

a short film about andrew's trip to malawi

andrew in malawi

You may remember back in April we waved goodbye to our Andrew and packed him off to Malawi to visit and help out at an innocent foundation project. Well as the culmination of his trip he has just finished editing a short film about his experience. And here it is. It's well worth watching to the very end if only to witness his unique dancing talents.

the last blog from malawi

andrew in malawi

Two weeks is up and I'm on my way back to the UK.

From seeing the great work the Microloan Foundation are doing to working with fledgling businesses and spending time with the warm, friendly Malawian people, it's been an incredible experience and I'm really grateful to have had this opportunity.

I spent my last few days visiting some newly established groups in Southern Malawi where the Microloan Foundation have recently set up new offices. It was good to compare this to the other groups I'd visited who have already been through more than one loan cycle.

The new groups had smaller businesses and were less diversified which is quite natural when you have less money to invest. What was constant in both new and established groups was the desire to earn a better living either for themselves and their families.

One business involved selling small quantities of beans, maize and cassava.

My favourite moments from the overall trip are far too many to list but the laughter I got from trying to dance at Chigwirizano is definitely up there.


Both from me and the ladies.

Saying all this, it's not going to stop here. After an almost teary* goodbye to Alfred, we're going to speak regularly and make sure the juice business is on track against our plan. The next important step is to get accreditation from the Malawi Bureau of Standards so I spent Saturday reading through some rather dull paperwork and compiling a list of all the actions needed to get the factory in shape.

I'll keep you updated on progress over the coming months and there'll be a short video once I've had time to do my washing and take in the last couple of weeks.

Thanks so much for reading and for all tips people sent in about eating Marmite to ward of the mozzies - it worked a treat.

Andrew D

*me not him


andrew in malawi

I thought I'd bring some footballs over to Malawi as gifts to say thanks for having me to all the people I've met along the way.

I only had one left and as we were driving through a village, we spotted this group of kids who were playing with a ball made up from plastic bags. We gave them this one which caused loads of excitement.

They politely endured ten minutes of watching me painfully try to play and then got on with the game in hand.

All the parents of the village came out to say thank you and one of them turned out to be a lady we'd met on an irrigation project we'd visited earlier that day, which made it doubly special.

Lovely Malawian lady and me. The end of another great day.

Andrew D