Flame Tree Initiative

Social Entrepreneurship for African Development

The Flame Tree Initiative partners with African universities to foster scalable, socially minded businesses that accelerate regional change. We believe that training, mentoring and launching development enterprises - businesses that confront global development challenges – is a potent way to contribute to the new, innovative era in Africa.

 

The Thrill of a Development Entrepreneurship Lab (3.0 March 2016)

    Lauren Simonis, Director of Operations and ever-inspiration, had warned me how intense preparation for the Development Entrepreneurship Lab would be, so I was ready for the post-midnight bedtimes and 5:30 mornings with Mzuzu coffee in my cup and macadamia honey toast on my plate. It delighted us both that monkeys romped along the brick walls when the first morning birds sang, their little hands grasping stolen corn while even tinier hands of newborn little ones clung to their mothers' backs. The drive to Mzuzu University is beautiful, refreshing, full of red flame tree blooms in canopies over the only lightly lined and haphazardly paved streets. Schoolchildren in their uniforms traipse along the roadsides beside women with baskets or buckets artfully balanced on their heads, brightly patterned skirts wrapped tightly around their waists, as large white passenger vans overflow with passengers, chickens, bags of cheaply bought cast-off clothing from China, and sharply dressed businessmen heading into the city.

    The passion of the women and the drive of the men continue to inspire me. Mzuni chitenjes were a generous gift from Wayne.

    The passion of the women and the drive of the men continue to inspire me. Mzuni chitenjes were a generous gift from Wayne.

    The first DELab that Lauren conducted in September 2015 had been a trial-by-fire pilot experience with even later nights and earlier mornings. I was lucky to be buoyed by her hard-earned wisdom as the week in March 2016 progressed. For every breath that Lauren and Wayne spent guessing how tough and long the days ahead would be, three more breaths impressed upon me the inevitable inspiring caliber of these entrepreneurs. Their desire for change reflects a shifting psychology in East Africa to find new, innovative ways to confront barriers to poverty alleviation. 

    The DELab is an intensive workshop where nationally-selected applicants gather for one week to work on their business proposals. Skilled instructors help the entrepreneurs develop their strategic plans so that they have comprehensive budgets, theories of change, and clean-cut business models. By the end of the week they are able to vocalize their vision and mission statement in the succinct manner that brings them closer to perfecting their own ideas. The week culminates in individual pitch presentations to local professionals, academia, and media. FTI works hard to equip these men and women with the best tools possible to make their businesses attractive to impact investors. Our emphasis on social and environmental impact is key; it is what will lead progress for this country and, ideally, all of East Africa.

Jones Ntaukira guides the entrepreneurs to meet critical needs by fearlessly experimenting with ideas that may be imaginative, elusive, or strange, to determine their social impact, and whittle their words concisely.

Jones Ntaukira guides the entrepreneurs to meet critical needs by fearlessly experimenting with ideas that may be imaginative, elusive, or strange, to determine their social impact, and whittle their words concisely.

#withFlameTree, entrepreneurs like Ausbin and his partner can expand their tomato farms to employ struggling youth and build their economic and personal empowerment.

#withFlameTree, entrepreneurs like Ausbin and his partner can expand their tomato farms to employ struggling youth and build their economic and personal empowerment.

    During the week, instruction varies from structured talks by field experts to group exercises where the entrepreneurs share personal experiences about conquest over trials, the pursuit of dreams, or for solidarity with each other's projects. They also receive one-on-one mentorship with FTI staff. Though not each entrepreneur will become a full-fledged Fellow in the follow-up DEStudio, they all become part of the Flame Tree family. They are each able to express what they have done #withFlameTree that has irrevocably changed their life. The participants find themselves embedded with new friends that prepare cross-collaboration, continued mentoring, and growth even when times are tough. They build close relationships that forge into partnerships for brainstorming, event-planning, and business expansion. FTI participants, instructors, and staff become bonded to each other with endless support and consistent communication across nations.

    The pitch presentations are inspirational. The images are still strong in my mind...A fierce woman standing at the front of the room, cycling through her powerpoint, raising her hand and declaring that she pledges to fight for the educational and health rights of girls. Her passion was greeted with an awed silence. A pair of young university students who fearlessly answer questions about their inventive improvements on modern cookstoves. Their humble smiles were returned with congratulatory admiration. A businesswoman with a full plan of interweaving shared farming solutions to create a cooperative that sustains all involved. Her thoughtfulness and composure raises cheers.

    Now the Flame Tree team has completed another DELab. Another set of pioneering men and women have chosen the road less traveled in order to build a more vibrant, dynamic, and innovative development ecosystem, building on present foundations while daring new ideas to skyrocket progress for the Warm Heart of Africa. Malawi is ready for change.

DELab 2016 pitch day group photo

Story by Angel Allendale.

For more stories like this, visit the pages of some of our other tenacious entrepreneurs: Mphatso, Grace, and Sungani and Brown

Mphatso Kalemba: Eco-Line Organics

Mphatso poses with her tomato crop.

Mphatso poses with her tomato crop.

Monkeys wrestle, tousling each other’s hair with swift swipes and I’ve bolted from my seat to take a look. A little later, I will unknowingly and unwisely, taunt a monkey to cast aside his stolen carrot and leap down the railing, giving me a close-up of his face as he jumps two inches over my forehead, daring to grab at my camera. I don’t mind playing the foreigner so overtly if it means I can be enchanted by creatures so different from what I’m used to, even as my fellow co-workers of the Flame Tree Initiative laugh amiably from the porch above.

Wayne and Lauren chide my antics good-naturedly as I leap back up the steps, just as Mphatso Kalemba joins us at the wildlife reserve in Lilongwe, Central Malawi. Mphatso has a Master’s Degree in Environmental Governance specializing in Biodiversity Governance and a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Food Science and Technology and she has had the inspiring foresight to utilize her advanced education for social impact. 

Mphatso is a woman striking in her gracious poise and passionate intellect. She is prepared for our discussion, whipping open a notebook filled with notes for her strategic plan. She is a sweeping force of clarity reminding us why we are halfway around the world, compelled by Malawi and its people, hopeful for its progress.

Eco-Line Organics are made from organic and indigenous fruits and vegetables grown on Mphatso's farm.

Eco-Line Organics are made from organic and indigenous fruits and vegetables grown on Mphatso's farm.

Through her company, Eco-Line Organics, Mphatso works with indigenous plants to utilize their natural oils, leaves, and roots for herbal medicine, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and teas, among other products. What is remarkable is that many of the plants she seeks to use grow around the cultivated plots of smallholder farmers who aren’t aware of the value of these freely growing species. Corporations based outside Malawi take advantage of their ignorance, sweeping in and reaping these high-value plants to place in their own products, giving the farmers very little, if any compensation.

Mphatso wants to change that by educating farmers in different regions in such a way that they can educate others. She will analyze soils and climates in order to discern where certain crops can most efficiently and ethically be grown.

Mphatso tends her various crops including carrots, leafy greens, and hibiscus.

Mphatso tends her various crops including carrots, leafy greens, and hibiscus.

Convincing smallholder farmers to switch from old standby crops like corn and non-native vegetables to their native counterparts will be a hard sell, but Mphatso is already doing this through permaculture practices on her own farm. She has a natural model ready to display. Similarly, we are ready to display her to the rest of the world. 

Mphatso already has contracts set up with local restaurants acquired by asking their needs and then finding the species that grows best in that area. One of our roles will be to help her track the most relevant data to measure her social impact and scale responsibly. She has already identified a test group of farmers who see her long-term goals of higher yields and higher profits to whom she can teach this new line of agriculture.

Each of our Flame Tree Fellows gives us new hope for positive change. Mphatso is no different. Her passion and enthusiasm for her work are a major driving force in creating a more equitable and environmentally sustainable Malawi.

 
#withflametree Mphatso gained clarity and the belief that her dream is achievable.

#withflametree Mphatso gained clarity and the belief that her dream is achievable.

 

 

Story by Angel Allendale

For more stories on our entrepreneurs, visit our pages on Grace and Sungani and Brown.

Strategic Advisor Spotlight: Jones Ntaukira

Every blog post starts as an empty, sometimes intimidating, blank page. We decided to fill a few with some details about the people who make Flame Tree Initiative unique. Enjoy post #1 about our Strategic Advisor, Jones Ntaukira!

Jones Ntaukira, Strategic Advisor for the Flame Tree Initiative

Jones Ntaukira, Strategic Advisor for the Flame Tree Initiative

How did you first get involved with Flame Tree?

I trained on the very first DELab in Malawi in 2012 organized by Flame Tree where I spent a cool seven days learning about development and social entrepreneurship.

 

Why did you decide to continue on as a Strategic Advisor?

I love to inspire and empower others. I am a natural coach and it pleases me to see others get inspired to take action, so when the opportunity arose for me to become an SA, I thought, what a great opportunity! 

 

What kind of projects do you enjoy working with?

I am passionate about technology, really. So naturally I enjoy working on innovative projects and with entrepreneurs who are using technology to solve real pressing issues in poor communities for example, an entrepreneur who is eradicating energy poverty and making energy access affordable will always have a special warm place in my heart.

 

What do you do outside of Flame Tree?

I am Managing Director for Zuwa Energy Ltd, a private company that harnesses mobile technology to improve solar energy access amongst poor communities living off grid. We use pay-as-you-go technology to achieve this. I am also Executive Director for Empower Malawi, a nonprofit institution with a mission to enable rural communities to build self reliance through capacity building and access to relevant sustainable technology.

 

What do you think the key to successful social entrepreneurship in Malawi is?

Capacity building, capacity building, capacity building.

 

What's one fun fact about you?

I can't stand those transparent lizards/geckos that crawl around homes. Damn, who made those?

 

And anything else that you might think is interesting?

Malawi is on the right track as far as social entrepreneurship is concerned, but there is more to be done on the policy front to support development entrepreneurs in Malawi. It seems of late there are a lot of projects that the government is supporting but I think they tend to focus too much on purely for-profit ventures. Projects like Matching Grants Facilities, business exchanges, and incubation must be extended to all regardless of whether they are for-profit or not. And there is need for more DELab-like programs to reach out to as many youths as possible.

 

Find out more about Jones through his bio on our webpage, or on his LinkedIn profile.

Brown Kilembe and Sungani Mkandawire: Green Heat

Our Toyota Hi-Lux brakes for a scraggy dog, the same tawny color and haggard-but-happy look of every dog I’ve seen in Malawi. We roll forward another few feet to stop before Sungani Mkandawire’s house in Mchengautuwa Bishop, just outside Mzuzu. He shyly grins as we step out of the vehicle. I look up and down the red-dust road, as chickens cross next to brightly uniformed schoolgirls who giggle at the out-of-place visitors. The wooden slats of roughly hewn logs make up the white-picket-fence version of a peaceful Malawian neighborhood.

Wayne, Sungani, and Lauren stand atop the sawdust hill that feeds Green Heat Malawi's briquette production.

Wayne, Sungani, and Lauren stand atop the sawdust hill that feeds Green Heat Malawi's briquette production.

Sungani pushes aside the gate so we can enter his front yard. To the left is a giant hill of sawdust from the local lumberyard and I smile in anticipation. Finally, we will get to see how Green Heat Malawi makes their sawdust briquettes.

Green Heat Malawi is the development enterprise of Sungani and his partner Alinane “Brown” Kilembe. Sungani is a two-time participant of the DELab and Brown joined him the second time to better strategize the growth of Green Heat.

Sungani creates their signature sawdust briquette mixture.

Sungani creates their signature sawdust briquette mixture.

A last minute challenge took Brown out of Mzuzu just before our visit, but they have both made remarkable improvements since those presentations in March. Lauren’s close coaching and edits combined with my incessant WhatsApp messages worked to prod a solid business plan, advanced product testing, and a more concrete definition of their path toward clear, measureable social impact.

What we came to see today are the results of that hard work. Green Heat Malawi consists of two primary products: a custom-designed cook stove and high-efficiency, environmentally friendly sawdust briquettes used in the stoves to heat food as well as for warmth.

They have been through many renditions of both stove and briquette, testing for both fuel efficiency and customer satisfaction, true scientists for innovation. They have proud faculty supporters from the university who facilitate connections with local businesses, while we seek to facilitate connections with investors. Both young men were quiet and focused at the DELab, but now Sungani talks excitedly about Green Heat, with obvious pride at all they’ve accomplished in the last several months.

Sungani molds a single briquette with their homemade press. This is their primary form of production until they raise enough funds to purchase an automated press.

Sungani molds a single briquette with their homemade press. This is their primary form of production until they raise enough funds to purchase an automated press.

He combines some ripped pages of old homework with a few handfuls of sawdust from the hill we passed earlier in a wide basin of water. He packs the mixture into a 3” circular tube before setting the tube upright on their hand-made briquette press. He pushes down on the lever, forcing the water out and squeezing the paper, cardboard, and sawdust mixture into a solid briquette, about the size of a baseball. With a grunt of strength, he gives the press one last jerk, takes the mound out of the tube, and hands it to us to study.

This small sawdust briquette will make a sincere impact on this Malawian community and perhaps, with scaling, the entire region. They have the potential to cut down on deforestation, as Malawi depends on the branches and the seared trunks of its trees for charcoal and firewood as its main sources of cooking fuel for a country of 16 million people.

A Green Heat Malawi briquette

A Green Heat Malawi briquette

Additionally, mothers preparing daily meals over low cookstoves frequently have babies pinned to their backs with both mother and child inhaling dangerous smoke. Green Heat’s briquettes are nearly smokeless, offering the chance to cut back on the high rates of respiratory deaths that stem from traditional practices.

We turn the briquette over in our hands, surprised at how light it is. The most important objective for Sungani and Brown right now is to obtain a larger, automated press so they can make more than triple their output of briquettes per day as well as compress the material further so that they can burn even more effectively. This production would allow them to meet orders they already have on hand from schools, clinics, and restaurants.

Angel, Wayne, and Sungani discuss briquette production and business strategy.

As we set the freshly made, densely packed briquette into the cookstove, we are all focused on the potential Green Heat has to make progress and stimulate change in Mzuzu. Their intention and skill is imperative in an energy-starved country, however, it is not enough to just have a great idea so we head inside to Sungani’s living room to discuss the next steps in their business strategy. There is still a long journey ahead of them, but with the right tools and resources, they will lead the way to clean energy in Northern Malawi.

 

Story by Angel Allendale

 

*If you would like to donate to Green Heat Malawi as they strive to bring a healthier, more environmentally friendly fuel source to Malawi, click here.

**For more stories on our entrepreneurs, read about our visit to Grace Phiri's vet shop here.

Flame Tree Initiative Statement on the Recent Immigration Ban

Flame Tree Logo

We want to take a moment to share our thoughts on the recent executive order barring citizens and refugees from certain countries from entering the United States. 

Here at the Flame Tree Initiative, we believe in certain core values that dictate our interactions with our friends, our neighbors, and every individual we work with both in the US and abroad. Those values include a belief in the basic human rights of all people and a commitment to fighting discrimination in all aspects of our organization. We cannot and will not stand for an order that is so clearly incompatible with the interests of both U.S. citizens and our friends abroad.

In addition to being unethical and counterproductive, this ban is contradictory to our mission to rally innovation, vision, and strong leadership around Malawi’s business community. We have partners from across the globe who represent many different religions, races, ethnicities, cultures, genders, sexual orientations, socio-economic classes, mental health conditions, and abilities and each one offers something integral to our programming and to our vision of generating sustainable social impact. 

Our work in Malawi is inextricably bound with the rest of the world. We are grateful for our differences because they generate the kind of creativity and diversity of thought that are required to solve this generation’s most pressing challenges. 

The Flame Tree Initiative welcomes applicants, partners, and colleagues from all backgrounds and we remain committed to uniting entrepreneurs, mentors, and supporters from across the globe in the pursuit of building a more equitable world for all. 

Grace Phiri: Vet Science and Social Impact in Rural Malawi

Grace stands beside the sign for her new agro-vet shop in Ntchisi, Malawi.

Grace stands beside the sign for her new agro-vet shop in Ntchisi, Malawi.

Grace Phiri waves energetically as we finally pull up to her veterinary shop in Ntchisi. After a few twists and turns, driving down washboard, deeply rutted, and occasionally entirely broken Malawian backroads in the wrong direction, we have found the correct town, the correct street, and absolutely the correct woman. Her smile reminds us, though we need little reminding, what a powerful force she is. 

Grace is one of the entrepreneurs in Cohort 3 of our Development Entrepreneurship Lab. She impressed us with her proposal for creating an agro-vet center, one which could supply local farmers, trained by the government to aid their neighbors, with the medications and vaccinations their animals need to remain healthy and strong. While her proposal was for a dream, six months later, we are able to witness her success. 

Grace stands outside her newly opened veterinary shop in Ntchisi, Malawi.

Grace stands outside her newly opened veterinary shop in Ntchisi, Malawi.

The wind whips red dust around us, a sign that the droughts have gone on too long. The rainy season will need to compensate for this dry season as well as the last. Grace is not the only one to tell us that crop yields have been dramatically low. This, of course, also affects the livestock health, access to feed, and resulting reproduction of animal offspring.

Grace’s vibrant blue, orange, and yellow chitenje swishes suitably around her legs and I marvel, once again, that these women can go about their days with the tight skirt wrapped around their lower bodies. But Grace doesn’t walk, she practically skips to show us her small vet shop. The poise and determination she exemplified in the DELab has paid off; she now has her certificate from the Medicines and Poison Board of Malawi. I recall when she WhatsApped to tell me it had finally come in, just two months ago. Her shop has now been open a month. They had six customers on Monday, five on Tuesday, and three more on Friday. Each week there are more. Word is spreading.

Grace discusses her business strategy and social impact goals inside her newly opened shop.

Grace discusses her business strategy and social impact goals inside her newly opened shop.

Grace had written me before our arrival that her shop was very small, that she wanted to prepare us so that we wouldn’t “make fun” of her small size; but I responded immediately that there was no way that was possible.

“We like small starts,” Lauren reassures her. “It gives you room to expand intelligently, rather than investing too much of your time and energy in ways that may not succeed. It gives you space to learn from your failures.” 

Grace’s intern, Steve, a recent graduate from LUANAR university, smiles in the Malawian way of warmth that is like a bashful sun breaching the shores of Lake Malawi, hugging us with cheerful eyes, saying, “You are most welcome.” 

Medications and vaccines line the shelves of Grace's vet shop shelves. She can order additional items on request and drives products requiring refrigeration up from Lilongwe where the regular power cuts that plague the country happen less frequently and are backed up by generators.

Medications and vaccines line the shelves of Grace's vet shop shelves. She can order additional items on request and drives products requiring refrigeration up from Lilongwe where the regular power cuts that plague the country happen less frequently and are backed up by generators.

Steve is also well educated on the needs of the community but we would never doubt that Grace would choose an intern with incredible depth and potential. She has the mind of a businesswoman and a heart for the farmers in her region. 

The shop, at about 10’ x 8’ may be small, but Grace’s exuberance spills out of the iron bars that separate her modest shop from customers outside. Her bright blue painted wooden shelves are stocked with antibiotics, vaccines, dewormers, and other pills and tags for animals. She explains that they mainly treat chickens and pigs, but there are some goats and cows as well.

Grace explains the complexities of livestock farming in the central region of Malawi.

Grace explains the complexities of livestock farming in the central region of Malawi.

When we ask the reason for such as small number of larger livestock, she explains how dairy cows, oxen and other large animals are often a burden on the families who keep them. The return on investment is pitifully low, starving out the farmer and draining his or her energy. We prod her further about the reasons why there are no small plows in the area, why farming has remained unchanged in Malawi for centuries. Instead, women bent-hinged from the waist, use hoes, often with babies on their backs, sparsely clad feet, and callouses on their hands. Why are there no tillers? Grace cannot give us an answer except that this is the way it has always been done.  

“It is perhaps just our way. Just our mindset,” she says with a shrug. "Maybe it would just take one person to do it differently for others to see the benefits." We can see the wheels turning as she eyes the land outside her shop as a potential location to keep a plow horse. 

Grace's list of social impact goals are turned into measurable data points that can be tracked efficiently as part of her daily operating procedures. This information will be used to attract funders, report to her community, and direct her operations to optimize the positive impact on her stakeholders and the environment.

Grace's list of social impact goals are turned into measurable data points that can be tracked efficiently as part of her daily operating procedures. This information will be used to attract funders, report to her community, and direct her operations to optimize the positive impact on her stakeholders and the environment.

Lauren asks about Grace’s social impact, one of the priorities we pressure our entrepreneurs to explore. It is necessary to have such assessments to attract impact investors, to report to donors, and to provide direction for business expansion. At this request, Grace promptly pulls a rolled sheet of paper from her purse, listing six different ways her agro-vet center can make true social and environmental impact in her community. They range from reduced livestock mortality to capacity building for Animal Health students. We have no doubt in her abilities to meet all of these goals and we will guide her in her measurement and analysis to ensure she has quality and professional data to present and to guide her strategy.

We sit on wooden stools, flanked by poured concrete walls, their vacant gray stares etched with the words of the literate, mainly names, some vocabulary words likely scrawled by kids, freshly learned at school. We are surrounded by tin sheets, broken pieces of wood furniture, cast aside partial bricks, and the occasional ant pile. She speaks of her potential and we confirm it. Highly educated and committed to her community, her smile and enthusiasm are matched by a calm poise and competency that we have come to love about Malawian women entrepreneurs. True grace and hope under pressure for her country’s need for progress. 

Grace explains the impact the Flame Tree Initiative has had on her business. "#Withflametree I have been assisted with amazing mentorship. The actual energy to start my veterinary store, I owe it to these amazing guys."

Grace explains the impact the Flame Tree Initiative has had on her business. "#Withflametree I have been assisted with amazing mentorship. The actual energy to start my veterinary store, I owe it to these amazing guys."

Story by Angel Allendale

*For more stories about our entrepreneurs, read about Brown and Sungani's sustainable fuel company here

Coping with the Uncertain

I first went to Malawi almost 16 years ago.  There has been significant change over those years, notably in the emergence of a middle class and evident physical progress in urban areas.  

Still, I wonder.  When we look at what economists call “the macros”, it takes our breath away. Inflation is still lousy, exchange rates have been terrible, national debt is significant, international borrowing from the private sector is impossible and bank interest rates make investment in social entrepreneurship unlikely.  There are recent signs of better days – exchange rates are leveling and a lower price for oil can help.  

Amidst this macroeconomic turmoil, and following on a serious government corruption scandal several years back, I am more optimistic about Malawi’s future than ever. Why? 

We emphasize measurement of social impact in all that we do, yet my optimism is not yet grounded in traditional data.  Instead, years on the ground in Malawi and FTI's operation of our DELabs have convinced me that there is a profound change in social psychology going on that is vastly more important than traditional measures of progress.  

Perhaps that change cannot really be measured, but I am convinced that it is both real and profound. Years back, even when speaking with college students and faculty, pessimism ruled. Malawi would continue to be poor, donors would always be essential to survival.  

No more. I believe that the spread of connectivity, notably the internet and cellular service, has had a wildly transformational effect on the way people think.  Take charge attitudes are in the air, startups of all flavors are being built, woman are taking the lead, traditional overseas development assistance warrants less respect among the populace and there is a palpable excitement about building a country.  

Problems will remain for a long time, and the "M-1 economy" -- if that is what we might call the urban economies linked by the main highway -- will advance economically far quicker than rural areas. That is worrisome for many reasons, but it is also a challenge that Flame Tree seeks to address.  

We do so in partnership with great Malawians, educators, and development entrepreneurs who are smart, patriotic in healthy ways, highly interconnected, optimistic, energetic and daring.  

It is a total pleasure to work in this environment at this crucial time. We feel privileged.

 

Announcing our 2015 Canopy Participants!

Meet Our 2015 Canopy Finalists!

We are pleased to present to you, our 2015 incubator participants! These three individuals showed exceptional promise, dedication, and acuity during our 2015 DELab. We will be working with them intently over the next several months to bring their businesses to launch in early 2016. Stay tuned to follow their journeys!

Mphatso Jumbe, Mafe Farms - Mafe Farms is a village-based social enterprise located in Mpemba, Malawi.  Our vision is to ensure greater participation of women in the dairy industry by providing a ready market, training, and support for local female dairy farmers. Together we are making rural development a reality.

Mphatso also runs a women's empowerment organization, MoVe! A Young Women's Movement for Justice and Development.

 

Andrews Gunda, MAYADE - MAYADE aims to transform the lives of young men and women aged 15 to 35 years by engaging them in sustainable mushroom production and marketing. The project will accelerate youth participation in national economic growth while also creating employment and providing marketable skills to Malawi's majority youth population.

Andrews also owns and runs a farming initiative, JATI and manages his own transportation company.

 

Tione Kaonga, Chonona Aquaculture Ltd. - Chonona is creating a network of satellite fish farmers who will pool their efforts to decrease overfishing in Lake Malawi, improve income options for local farmers, and provide entrepreneurship training and support to its participants.

Tione is a Managing Consultant for UMODZI Consulting in Blantyre, Malawi.

Application Process Closed

Hello Flame Tree Followers,

Two months ago, we set out to fill 20 spots for our 2015 Development Entrepreneurship Lab. We had no idea exactly how well-received the program would be. After no small amount of work from our team, particularly from Jones Ntaukira, we received 85 applications in total!

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We are grateful for not only the high quality of applications received, but also the outpouring of support that has come from the community. It is obvious that we are in the right place, doing the right work. Malawi is full of promising entrepreneurs who are ready to take their skills and their big ideas to the next level. Innovation, creativity, and drive are consistent themes throughout these applications and we are excited to begin working with you all.

Acceptance emails will go out on by Friday. We are only regretful that we cannot accept more of you, but if we cannot take you this time, we do hope you'll reapply for future DELabs. There is a lot of talent and motivation in Malawi and we are excited to connect with all of you.

Until Next Time,

laurensignature