Harrison’s Story

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Harrison’s Story

Meet 21-year-old Harrison, a tailor and business owner from Helani village in central Malawi. 

When he was 15, Harrison was forced to drop out of school because his family could not afford secondary school fees. This is a widespread problem for young people in Malawi with only 31% of the population (World Bank, 2016) estimated to be enrolled in secondary education.

As the eldest of five, after his father died and his mother remarried, Harrison became the breadwinner of his family. At the age of 17, he was doing manual labour to get any income he could, which is also a significant issue in Malawi, with child labour rates as high as 49% (World Bank, 2015). With the combined income from his labour and from his mother and grandmother’s small holding farming, Harrison could not afford necessities like soap, sugar and food for the family. 

It was then that he joined our Vocational Training Programme, which we run with our in-country partner, MPC Blantyre. He received training in tailoring and completed a five-day business management course.

From this point onwards, Harrison started using his new skills to change his, and his families, future. 

Immediately after his training, Harrison set up his own business of repairing clothes for people in his community and making new items to sell at local markets. He trained his younger brother, Chipiliro, and doubled his workforce!

Harrison then joined his local village savings and loans group set up through our Village Investors Programme (VIP). Through this, he was able to manage and save the profits, get involved in a group income generating activity of buying and selling maize, and take out loans to expand his business ventures.

During his first savings cycle, Harrison received an incredible $270. This enabled him to construct an iron-roofed, three-bedroom house, buy two bags of fertilizer to help his grandmother’s farming, and purchase three goats. Once these had bred, he sold the offspring for $85!

Harrison has not only changed his own future, but also Martha’s (pictured with Harrison above). He passed on his skills to her when she was 19 years old and struggling to care for her child and four younger siblings. Under his guidance, she too has set up her own business and joined the VIP, through which she received $87 during her first savings cycle!

We also train young people in the likes of carpentry, hairdressing and mechanics!