Arrival in Malawi/Gama Farm/MCA

Trip Start Sep 11, 2010
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4
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Trip End Oct 06, 2010


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Where I stayed
Ufulu Gardens

Flag of Malawi  ,
Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A 15 hour flight on a full plane in coach is an ordeal.   We've done this flight a number of times and it tell ourselves this is probably the last time.  But, after we arrive close to our final destination 1/3 of the way around the world in one flight, meet the people, those words and thoughts go away. 

We really enjoy Henry Khembo and his ever present enthusiasm.  We spent a time talking to him during our layover in Johannesburg as we are both headed to Lilongwe, Malawi on the same flight.

The flight to Lilongwe is a little more than two hours.  After clearing customs, we were met at the airport by Wordsworth Rashid and Christina Davis who is here on a Simon Fellowship Grant initiating a program she has called Africa Start UpChristina Davis was awarded a $20,000 grant from the Simon Fellowship as a result of her well-thought-through proposal.  You can see the various elements of this program on the LifeNets Website at http://lifenets.org/africastartup/

She also has a Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Africa-Start-Up/146859228665133?

She has a TravelPod blog that contains a lot of good information, too, at http://www.travelpod.com/z/davisc./2/1284282080

You can see a YOUTUBE video which well describes the program at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugjZR0Fo0n0  She is also working on a standalone Website.  
 
The Mission of Africa Start Up is "To reduce extreme poverty through a global student initiative that provides training for sustainable business growth.

We didn’t waste any time after leaving the airport.  While it was still daylight we went straight out to our first project visit which was Alfred Gama’s farm.  It is a small farm about three-four acres on the outskirts of Lilongwe. We were impressed by Albert two years ago because he is a hard worker who is always on the job and wants to make the best of his life.  His verdant farm grows maize, bananas, sugar cane, tomatoes and beans. 

Since our last visit here two years ago we have helped him with seed, fertilizer, treadle pump and cement for building a dam.

The dam project is coming along well.  He is digging out a large hole in the ground with the help of a few workers.  All digging is by hand.  As water is reached it is pumped out with the treadle pump by one of the workers while the others continue to dig.  The mud that is thrown out of the pit is being used to make burnt bricks for a future house.  His project is well thought through. It was not a large investment on LifeNets’ part, but one that will make a big difference for him.  We are considering buying him a motorized pump for getting water out of the dam.  The cost will be about $500.  Our total investment in this project over the past years has been about $1200 and it’s made a big change in Albert Gama’s life.  From income of 3500 kwachas per month ($230) he saves $150 to reinvest.  He is learning what business is all about.

From Gama’s project we drove to the Malawi College of Accountancy where Seattle University is holding Africa Start Up Initiative working with student, business owners and teachers to work on a project to improve small businesses in Africa. It involves developing a curriculum for students to teach business people what business is all about.  I wanted to sit in a few of the classes to see what was taught.
 
The Malawi College of Accountancy is government run, but acts very independently and progressively.  
 
It was good to meet the Africa StartUp team from the United States including Sarah Bea from Seattle University who is a Managerial Accounting Professor and Faculty Athletic representative, Sharron Maggard is a planning manager for Grubb and Elli Real Estate. She was here as the non-profit liaison/adviser who has worked with Catholic Relief Services in Macedonia and Armenia.  She was office head in Macedonia.  John Hirsch is a graduate student in Accounting.  I had met Sarah Bea back in Seattle we with Harriet Stevenson, considered the Grand Dame of Entrepreneurship studies at Seattle University back in April of this year.  Of course, Christina is a full-time employee at Google.  

I really enjoyed the two classes that were taught.  The first one was about budgeting, keeping records.  The second about business ethics which I thought was very well done.  It was interesting to listen to new student teachers explaining entrepreneurial concepts The student who taught the ethics class was called Eddington. He spoke about keeping your word, commitment, trust, being truthful and treating others fairly and with respect.

The day ended by going to dinner with Christina, Wordsworth, Bev and myself.  Afterward, we went to bed after being in the same clothes for two whole days in traveling.    
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