By Owen Zayambika
Concerned Youth Organization (CYO) has trained youths in Mchinji in shoemaking using locally available materials.
The 30-day training which has been taking place in five Traditional Authorities (TAs) in the district have enabled school leavers and dropouts to acquire massive shoemaking skills enabling them to produce footwears with export quality.
The organization’s Field Officer for Mchinji, Aubrey Chidziwisano, said with funding from Commonwealth of learning, his organisation introduced the project as a way of reducing gender inequality gaps in the district through provision of vocational skills to women and girls.
“CYO came up with the project to provide a means of livelihood to women and young girls who are often marginalized in the communities so that they acquire vocational skills and use them to earn income to support their families,” he said.
Georgina Gama, one of the training participants from Nyoka Village in the area of TA Nyoka in said the shoemaking skills will enable them to start their own businesses.
She said she was happy to have acquired the rare skill and was hopeful that people will be buying their products since they are of higher quality.
“First of all, we are glad that CYO could give us such training, it is awesome. It is an honour to us to be associated with a highly skilled hand in shoemaking.
Chimwemwe Mwenyemasi, the 2016 Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) Innovation Awards winner was the main facilitator in the training.
Mwenyemasi who owns Mwenyemasi Shoe Company in Blantyre said there is a future in the local shoemaking industry.
The 29-year-old entrepreneur who once went to China to appreciate Chinese shoemaking art said he was motivated by what he saw during his trip to China.
He said Malawi can do better in the industry and substitute footwear imports forthwith.
“What I saw in China is that people are hardworking and visionary, they value research and progress. They support local industries.
“If you look at the shoes that we have been making here, it is the same quality we import from China, but Malawians would rather buy an imported product rather than a locally made one,” he said.
Mwenyemasi further asked the government and other stakeholders in the country to re-energise the Buy Malawi Strategy which he said might help in promoting local industries.
The six-month K21 million worth project dubbed Lifelong Learning (L3M) for mothers and out of school girls equips the target groups with skills in tailoring and shoemaking in the areas of T/As Nyoka, Mduwa, Mkanda, Zulu and Dambe in the district.