Veronica wrote this beautiful essay that describes the challenges for girls in Malawi but the hope that comes with entrepreneurship education.
“I stay at area 41 (Kauma). I started my business when I received MWK 5000 ($6.50) from Mrs Kamanga because we did a piecework for her. So I decided not to buy wants but to buy business materials for Mandasi and this operates at Kauma along the main road. I would love to start selling fashion designs materials such as lining, thread and the like, because I will be the first one to sell those things in our community. I decided to start a business because it was the only thing that I could do apart from school to earn money as a youth.
Girls in my community face early marriages because of poverty. There is a lot of violence against girls in their families and some of the girls in my school have dropped out because of school fees and then this led to prostitution. Entrepreneurship is very important because it can improve the lives of the youth. When someone is running business activities, in that business she can gain profits that can be used in so many areas like food. This also makes someone to be independent. Entrepreneurship also helps the youth to avoid doing risky behaviors for example smoking because they have something to do and it can also help girls to not enter into marriage because they will have something to help on their own.
Since joining Student Driven Solutions, I’ve gained skills for conducting business. I can stand on my own, become independent. SDS should continue to help other girls by empowering them with business skills, just like it is doing for me.”
Veronica with her SDS mentor learning about budgeting
Veronica has found a way to live an empowered life within a very difficult environment for girls, yet it is not only our hope that she succeeds, but also we wish for her a life of service to others. We are incredibly proud that Veronica and her fellow SDS classmates recently taught a group of girls from around Kauma village the business skills they’ve learned since joining the SDS program. Veronica is proof that if you teach a girl you teach a village.
Veronica and her classmates teaching business skills to other girls in Kauma Village
As part of their community project, Chimwemwe and her friends at SDS decided to collect recycled materials from around the village and sell these items in order to provide soap and other materials to an orphanage in their neighborhood. Chimwemwe told us, “We chose an orphanage because we wanted to give them things they don’t have, like soap. It was perfect. We feel good because we have shown we are active citizens.” These girls are proof that there is always a way to serve our communities no matter what limits we think might be stopping us. As girls, women, boys, and men, it’s up to all of us to provide girls with the opportunities and respect they deserve because girls can do great things if given a chance.
Chimwewmwe and her friends delivering soap and snacks to children at an orphanage
Our female mentors are also proud champions of girls’ education in Malawi. A current Chancellor College student and SDS mentor Faith says, “Mentoring has really made a huge impact on my life. I learn a lot from the girls. It’s made me rethink my goals too.” It is important to come together and recognize their power to make changes in the fight for gender equality. All of us have something to offer to others. All of us have something we can learn from others. At SDS we embrace knowledge sharing and encourage girls of all ages and all backgrounds to take action and develop their communities.
At Student Driven Solutions, our role is to support girls on their journey to empowerment, financial independence, and social change. Every one of us knows a girl who could use a role model. We can all do something.
Student Driven Solutions believes in the power of entrepreneurship and civic responsibility to lift girls out of poverty in Malawi and around the world. We provide a unique experience to female students and school dropouts in Malawi. Our girls receive financial training and learn how to start their own businesses with the support of young female mentors, trained teachers, and a female business advisor. However, we insist on them a responsibility given their participation in our program. As a result, they are tasked with identifying community problems and addressing them with their newfound skills. Girls have completed projects such as selling recycled-paper briquettes and providing mosquito nets. “SDS” believes that empowering girls does not just mean educating them but it means insisting upon them great responsibilities to rise up and be role models in their communities.