Malawi presents an array of challenges and equaling compelling opportunities. Certainly there are serious problems. Recent years have evidenced hunger, the devastation of HIV/AIDS, insufficient progress in K-12 education, unsustainable population growth, excessive reliance on cash crop agriculture, massive resource (forest, fisheries) depletion and environment destruction.
Yet all is not bleak; progress is being made. Per capita income growth has risen markedly over the past three years, agricultural production has dramatically increased due in part to an innovative government fertilizer subsidy policy, and the infection rate for HIV/AIDS has stabilized. Of fundamental significance, the national government based in Lilongwe is democratically elected, stable and supportive of higher education.
Our decision to base The Flame Tree Initiative in Mzuzu is based on a few significant factors. First, Development Entrepreneurship can become transformative across the range of development issues only under certain conditions. There has to be an economic base, internet connectivity, and a strong social drive towards innovation and entrepreneurship; all of which are present in Mzuzu.
Second, we must be able to build and nurture a strong partnership with an established university. Mzuzu University is the leading institution of higher education in Northern Malawi, a dynamic and fast-growing university with the mission to serve Malawi and the desire to do so in innovative ways. This partnership will work to the benefit of students, Mzuzu University, its faculty, and Malawi; growing strength and building the university as a resource for progress in northern Malawi.