I love a good piece of fashion, but more and more I become to realize I want my clothes to be ethical responsible and I like to know what my spendings add up or give back.
Looking into the fashion industry of my destination Malawi, I found a very special manufacturing company in Lilongwe: Taste of Malawi.
This NGO creates authentic designs with a fashionable twist in Malawi, made by local women who get a good loan, education and child-support for the work they do. Taste of Malawi has a strong focus: Independency for women. And they make it happen, as I got the chance to see this beautiful organization as a volunteer and witness it with my own eyes.
Taste of Malawi
Taste of Malawi is a small scale manufacturing organization in Area 46, just outside of Lilongwe – Malawi. This company is started by a German entrepreneur Janna together with a local Malawian Entrepreneur Alexander. The aim is to produce authentic crafted garments, employing local women and giving them the possibility to operate independent.
Independency is both created by the income the women receive from the NGO, as well as the classes where they learn techniques, skills and develop themselves as tailors. They follow classes to develop into next level tailors. Many women who worked for Taste of Malawi from the start in 2014, now run their own small-scale businesses. I love that!
Taste of Malawi is a small scale atelier with about ten women working as tailors. Next to the tailors, they work with volunteers and they have a separate sustainability project o board. They aim to reduce as much waist as possible, converting small strings of left-over fabric into cute doormats, creating longdrink glasses from wine bottles, making their own briquettes from pulp (paper waist and water) and designing sunglass cases from drinking cartons. It’s incredible what they are able to make here on a small scale.
Taste of Malawi also provides kindergarden and education for the children of the women employed by the company. For just a small contribution (€0,10) the women receive a nutritious lunch everyday.
I’ve seen the working conditions personally and they are very good. All women sit down while working on the machines, there’s an easy vibe with music and conversations and the women get proper breaks to either eat, relax or visit their homes quickly. Their working hours are very reasonable as well.
As a small scale production company Taste of Malawi is very flexible in their products. At the moment of my visit, they were working on both fashion and lifestyle products. In fashion they are specialized in both men and women and they were creating skirts, tops, jackets, dresses and shirts when I visited. The lifestyle products I’ve seen them working on were denim aprons, sunglass cases, etuis, small bags, (onderzetters), doormats, shoppers and string-bags.
All products are produced with vision on the three P’s: People, Planet and Profit
Sales and development of the brand
As all products are ethically produced, with the goal to create sustainability and zero-waste mindset, their products are the perfect fit for the Western market. At the moment, they mostly sell locally, but they aim to collaborate with slow-fashion brands in Europe and the US to grow their production. Their first collaboration with a German fashion brand is in full production and I can’t wait to see more of Taste of Malawi popping up in Slow Fashion stores. Because of their small scale and detailed designs, they are able to create small samples in a short time and have a beautiful handcrafted signature.
About the volunteer program
If you are interested in Fashion & Lifestyle and would love to make a difference, volunteering at Taste of Malawi might be the perfect fit for you. They love project managers, tailors, fashion designers, technicians and production specialists to join the team and to build op the brand. Your skills and knowledge are very valuable in this start-up and growing company and therefore your contribution is very beneficial. You will really make a difference, you will be able to help out.
To me, this is an eye opening voluntary role and one that really matters. So to all fashion-minded kind souls, why not contribute to Taste of Malawi:)
For more details on the practical side of volunteering in Malawi, please reach out to Lana or check the website.
My day at ToM
I volunteered with Taste of Malawi in Lilongwe for a day in order to get to know as much as possible about this interesting NGO. I started with a little tour, followed by a conversation with the employees, the volunteer and the owner. I was able to learn a lot about the organization and share my ideas and suggestions for the company with them. We bought, prepared and had lunch together, I could browse through the new collection, we did a little photoshoot and I got very interesting demonstrations of their sustainability zero-waste projects, So cool what they do here, such creative solutions!
The support of The Sunshine Journey
As an organization, I believe in the vision and mission of this organization and love to support a cause of independency. Women in developing countries deserve an independent life and I love how Taste of Malawi manage to give this to the women. I encourage fashion entrepreneurs and this company does it the right way. With a kind business model, they will be able to help many women in Fashion.
As many of you may have seen on the IG-stories, I organized a Closet Sale recently. I sold lots of cute items from my garderobe and I love to donate the gainings of my fashion sale to a sustainable fashion organization. Therefore The Sunshine Journey donates €100,- to the Taste of Malawi organization! Looking forward to see what they are able to do with the extra’s.