I have recently returned from seven weeks in Malawi (see map). It blows my mind that I can somewhat seamlessly travel between what feels like two different worlds. Operating in another culture is thrilling, inspiring and sometimes exhausting. What keeps me going always is the wonderfully cheerful spirit of the Malawian people. This trip proved to be very successful on a number of different levels. I was able to catch up with old friends and make some new ones along the way. I traveled throughout the country from North to South and made excellent progress on the business. And, I lead a four week trip with 13 American high school kids studying HIV/AIDS and healthcare in Malawi through Putney Student Travel.
During my time traveling the country I focused on meeting with cooperatives that are already making handicraft products. I was pleased to find more groups than I had originally anticipated. Among the most impressive was Chifundo Artisans Network, Bangwe Weaving Factory, Luso la Manja, and Africa Bags. All of them reported back to me with the same comment, "we have created jobs and are making products, but don't have a big enough market to support the work we have started." The plan with Dsenyo is to be the brand that gives these groups access to an export market helping them sustain their projects. We will advise on product design to make sure that we are offering products that appeal to Western consumer needs and wants. I am more convinced than ever that Dsenyo is answering a real need for our friends in Malawi.
It was a wonderfully successful trip and I am exploring possible partnerships with several of these groups and individuals. I have a fierce team of advisors assisting me in planning for the next year and reaching Dsenyo's ambitious goals. Check out my next blog to hear more on those!
Tiwonana! (Chichewa for "See you later")