Chanasa became a registered association in Malawi in April 2014 and is registered with the NGO Board in Malawi. Chanasa shares the same aim as Chifundo UK of empowering girls and women in Malawi.
Chanasa consists of six Women’s sewing groups based in the poorer locations around Blantyre, the second city and in the south of Malawi together with a part-time paid coordinator and a Marketing and Communications Intern. They are based in four locations with two groups meeting in two of the locations and one in each of the other two. The groups are open to any woman so long as they are unemployed. They make sustainable products, using recycled denim and cotton mixed with African fabrics and for which they are paid a fair wage - approximately twice that of the minimum wage in Malawi. It is a FairTrade organisation. They also make resusable sanitary pads (See Lotus Packs under What we Do) and bags to meet the menstrual hygiene needs of school girls. Each group has a leader and the women share the payments for products amongst them. Four of the groups have rented rooms to use and the remaining two meet in a church at the moment. The groups are provided with equipment such as sewing machines - treadle and electric as the power supply in Malawi is not reliable as well as needles, pins etc. The materials that are needed to make the products are purchased centrally. There is an Annual General Meeting and a six monthly meeting of a more informal nature for all the women. Their transport costs are paid and refreshments provided by Chifundo. In addition since the women receievd business training, they hold a monthly meeting of their own and organise a savings scheme so that the women can take out small short term loans.
In Malawi money is raised by selling Chanasa products in Malawi outlets and at school fairs; and through grants. In Malawi women earn money by making the products and also by using their skills to make other items sold locally such as fabric face coverings. Profits are used to educate women. Chanasa is supported by Chifundo UK who pay for a part time coordinator. Chifundo also pay the fees for women to do tailoring courses at the Beehive Tailoring School in Chilomoni, Blantyre.
Two of the groups meet in Ndirandi. One is led by Agnes and the other by Esnart.
Here is Esnart from the Ndirandi group. She has a diploma from the Beehive Tailoring School. She is married to Wilford and has two daughters called Chikondi and Quaen. She managed to buy a sewing machine and is helping the other women in the Ndirandi Group to improve their sewing.
The Chilomoni Women's Group has 10 women members.
The Soche East Women's Group has five women members.
Chilomoni II Group
A second Chilomoni group has been formed and is led by Constance on the left above. Three of the members are trined tailors and they make some of the more complicated products and design new products as well. Constance is also the Womens representative trustee.
This is the newest group which formed in the summer of 2018. It consists of five ladies who meet in a rented room in the Catholic Cathedral in Limbe and is led by Anne.
Elizabeth Matemba is our part time (18 hrs per week) Coordinator. She started 1st July 2018 and her role is to organise the group leaders to complete the orders received and to help to get new orders.
Chanasa received a grant from the Irish Embassy for the purpose of setting up and renting a room for an office in Soche East Women's Centre for a year in 2017-8. This is set up and is a base for Elizabeth to work from.
Track Record of Orders
1. SOKO Fund work bags, which were used to launch their Graduate Association in Malawi in May 2017
2. A variety of products, bags, bow ties, ties, scarves, serviettes, table runners and 350 chair covers, for the College of Medicine 25th Anniversary September 2016
3. 50 Hustle Bags and samples of Chanasa Products for the Ministry of Gender in Malawi May 2017
4. 150 Safari Bags for a conference organized by the Ministry of Transport in Malawi October 2017
5. 100 Padded reversible messenger bags, 100 safari bags with zip pocket, 100 purses for the University of Glasgow - September 2017 with a futher 25 Tote bags and 100 purses in September 2018. The profits are to be used to fund female scholarships at the College of Medicine in Malawi
6. Products are sold in retail outlets in Malawi – Lilongwe – La Galleria, the Wildlife Sanctuary, Frissons and the Four Seasons – Blantyre African Habitat, La Caverna and the Mount Soche Hotel.
7. A selection of bags and purses for Germany in August 2018.
8. 1300 Tote Bags for the African Conference at the University of Edinburgh 2019.
9. 150 Tote Bags and 150 fabric face coverings all with Irish branding for the Irish Embassy in Lilongwe.