Dsenyo is committed not only to empowering our artisan partners, but to providing customers with transparent information about our fair trade impacts. We are excited to share findings from our first comprehensive social impact survey with our partners in Malawi!
Malawi is a small, largely rural country in sub-Saharan Africa. It is consistently ranked as one of the ten poorest countries in the world, with 62% of the population living below the international poverty line of $1.25 per day. Formal employment in Malawi is scarce, and women in particular are excluded from the labor force and other forms of social participation.
Dsenyo has partnered with artisan groups in Malawi since 2009, after founder Marissa and her husband, Jon, lived in the country. Marissa’s relationships in Mzuzu and her love of African textiles pushed her to work toward creating economic opportunities for women. Today, we partner with four enterprises supporting approximately 80 artisans across the country.
After years of partnerships and talking about the social and economic impacts of fair trade, Dsenyo wanted to measure the real effects of our business for women and artisans. We designed a unique and innovative social impact survey to measure indicators across nine key impact areas – including income, housing, food security, and social empowerment, among others. This social impact survey was crafted for two express purposes: 1) strategic planning to better support artisan partners, and 2) authentic messaging that creates a personal connection from customers to artisans.
In October 2013, Marissa traveled to Malawi to visit our partners, conduct surveys, and host training workshops. We were inspired by many women’s desire to participate openly and have their voice heard. The detailed information gathered in the survey has allowed us to set a baseline for measuring growth over time and develop plans to further assist our partners.
Some key findings highlighted in the survey include:
- Dsenyo works with approximately 80 artisans across Malawi, reaching a total community impact of approximately 440 individuals (artisans and their families)
- On average, Dsenyo’s partners make $68 USD per month, almost three times the national minimum wages of $24 USD per month. (note: artisans do not work full-time for Dsenyo and Dsenyo does not intend to be their sole source of income)
- Malawi is consistently ranked as one of the ten poorest countries in the world, with 62% of the country living below the international poverty line of $1.25 per day. Yet 46% of all Dsenyo’s partners, including some in the Dzaleka Refugee Camp, are making above $1.25 per day while only working part-time on Dsenyo orders.
- 56% of partners have invested their earnings in additional entrepreneurial business ventures, including tailoring and market vending stalls, to generate another income stream.
- Artisans primarily use profits to reinvest in growing their business, pay school fees for children, and purchase clothing, fertilizer and household goods that they couldn't otherwise afford.
- Malawi is a country with extreme food insecurity and poor dietary diversity. 56% of artisans are able to feed their families two full meals a day. For artisans who live in the refugee camp, they are only given one meal per day, so earnings from Dsenyo are commonly used to purchase more and better food for their children.
- 90% of artisans can afford to send all their children to primary and secondary school, including paying school fees and purchasing uniforms, books, and supplies.
- All artisan partners said income from Dsenyo is helping them provide basic necessities for their families and improve their quality of life
Dsenyo is committed to continually deepening our partnerships and empowering Malawians to succeed. We plan to modify this survey for use with our partners in Brazil and Zambia in the near future. We hope such information helps customers understand how their purchase makes a difference. We invite questions, comments, and discussion from you on Dsenyo’s social and economic impacts!
Download printable-PDF versions of the Dsenyo Social Impact Infographic report here:
About Dsenyo Infographic (8.5" x 11")
Dsenyo Social Impact Infographic (11" x 17" poster)
Dsenyo Social Impact Infographic (two 8.5" x 11" pages)
Written by, Alison Hanson
Infographics by, Linda Xiong