How over 90% of our Charity’s donations are sent directly to education projects in Malawi
Updated: Apr 25
About the Charity
Think Malawi is a charity which funds projects in Malawi to help achieve a brighter future for children through education. ThinkMalawi was founded in 2011, originally known as Ganet’s Adventure School fund and since then the charity has worked hand-in-hand with Malawians to improve access to quality education.
Think Malawi focuses on using charitable funds for sustainable projects in Malawi that will have a lasting impact on the access to education and the quality of life of Malawian children. Previous projects funded by the charity in Malawi have included classroom construction, a feeding programme, water sanitation projects, and the provision of reusable sanitary pads and changing rooms in schools.
We believe in the power of volunteers, and by using a network of dedicated volunteers, ThinkMalawi are able to send more than 90% of donations directly to projects in Malawi. This blog looks at interviews with the volunteers at Think Malawi about what the charity has achieved with its donations, how they support the charity, and why they are passionate about supporting causes in Malawi.
Think Malawi’s trustees
Dev Aditya, Chair
Dev Aditya is Chairman of Think Malawi and also supports the charity with governance. Dev is currently the Managing Director of Otermans Institute through which we helped upskill 30,000 learners globally. Dev’s work has been awarded by the UK Prime Minister and he was declared a Young Global Innovator by Innovate UK.
Dev has also helped Think Malawi access free training for prospective students in Malawi by getting an in-kind free training delivery agreement with Otermans Institute.
I joined Think Malawi at a time when the world's students were suddenly pushed out of their classrooms and away from normal education. By joining Think Malawi, I want to continue to give young students, especially from underserved areas, more opportunities to learn especially modern 21st-century skills that can help with their future employability.
Steve McInerny, Founding Trustee
Steve McInerny founded Think Malawi in 2009 after volunteering at a school in Malawi and seeing how much difference a small contribution can make to people's lives there. Steve has been a trustee ever since alongside fellow founding trustee (and mum) Kate Hauxwell. As well as the more responsible work of a trustee, Steve has been involved in running lots of fun activities in that time including sponsored bike rides, gigs, celebrity auctions and once visited the Houses of Parliament. Outside of ThinkMalawi, Steve is the Director of a ‘bijou’ design agency, Sharp Sharp.
I love that we are run by volunteers and have massive potential to expand the impact we make in Malawi in innovative ways. I'm very proud of our track record of making a real difference to people's education and futures there, and doing it in the right way - working with Malawian NGOs to address needs identified by local communities. I love working with Malawians, and visiting the country when I can.
Some stand-out moments that make me smile are our charity bike ride, where one rider turned up (unprompted) dressed as a swan! Also when first volunteering at Ganet's Adventure School the children called me madam because they had never been taught by a man before, which took some getting used to.
Kate Hauxwell, Founding Trustee and Secretary
Kate Hauxwell is a founding trustee of Think Malawi and is currently the Secretary to the trust and also manages the recruitment at Think Malawi. Kate has a background in teaching including 2 years teaching at St Andrews International High School, Blantyre, Malawi and is now retired. Kate’s time as a Trustee has included making fairies and Christmas stockings for sale at Christmas fairs, project managing Crowfunder campaigns, liaising with partner teams in Malawi, and support for the website and newsletter.
It is a pleasure to meet our partners online, to see them and talk to them. Their enthusiasm for the communities they are supporting is very infectious. I also like working with our team of trustees and volunteers and sharing with others news about the work we are able to support. The generosity of some people in our village in supporting our projects has certainly made me smile.
My time in Malawi taught me to respect the Malawians I taught and worked with. Malawi is a wonderful country. I was sorry to leave and very happy when my son Steve met Gertrude Banda and we set up the charity to help her school. We now work with several NGOs and CBOs and it is a privilege and a pleasure to be able to support their work.
Andrew Baker, Trustee
Andrew Baker has been a Trustee with Think Malawi since March 2020 and helps with selecting the projects that Think Malawi funds, as well as preparing grant applications to raise funds for the charity. Andrew is a Finance Lawyer by profession and works on a range of deals but has a particular focus on international real estate finance. Outside of Think Malawi and work, Andrew is also a School Governor in Bermondsey, London and a wannabe mudlarker!
Think Malawi is a really worthwhile charity because it is entirely run by volunteers. This means that we have minimal overheads and the money raised goes directly to projects on the ground that make a real and tangible difference.
Malawi is very closely to my heart. My Dad grew up there and I have been fortunate to visit. It is such a beautiful place and the people are so friendly. It is one of those few places that lives up to its tourism slogan - ‘The Warm Heart of Africa’.
Some stand-out moments for Andrew include successfully completing fundraising for the Umodzi Youth Organisation (UYO) project - the charity set itself a large target to fund this project supporting Malawian school students with facemasks and PPE during the covid-19 pandemic.
Amaya Woods, Marketing Trustee
Amaya has been a Trustee with Think Malawi since January 2022 and helps with the digital marketing, website and SEO for Think Malawi. Outside of Think Malawi, Amaya is Marketing Manager at software company Chaser and has a background in growth marketing for tech businesses, including EdTech businesses tackling educational inequality in the UK. Amaya has written about and spoken on podcasts about her growth marketing experience and techniques in the technology sector.
I was so impressed and inspired seeing that Think Malawi are able to send 90% of their donations directly to projects and this was a large motivation when I joined the charity. It really is a testament to the hardworking group of volunteers Think Malawi have, who make this possible.
Educational inequality is an issue close to my heart and seeing the excellent results Think Malawi achieve for girls in education in Malawi is so rewarding. Particularly the Her Education Matters campaigns and Hope for Relief projects around girl’s sanitary products highlight such an important disadvantage that girls are faced with in developing countries, and I am honoured to work for a charity that is tackling this.
Some stand-out moments for me have been hiring and onboarding our SEO volunteer Charles Ahenda-Bengo who has already made such a positive impact. As well as our new marketing Trustee Georgia-May Stone, and the chance to work alongside Lionel Gache on our digital marketing. It’s a pleasure to work with a team of such highly motivated, switched-on, and caring individuals.
Georgia-May Stone, Marketing Trustee
Georgia joined Think Malawi as a Marketing Trustee in March 2022 and helps with content and social media marketing. Outside of Think Malawi, Georgia is Communications Officer at a local charity supporting unpaid carers. During her time working here, Georgia realised how she could use her skills to help people and the causes she cares about through writing and digital skills.
Think Malawi inspires me because the projects they fund have such an impact on communities in Malawi. The projects are also sustainable and you can see how they benefit women and children for a long time - they're not funding just a short-term fix. It shows how much impact you can make to people's lives with things we might take for granted in the UK.
I'm passionate about women and children's rights and access to education and when I read about the amazing work Think Malawi does I just felt like I wanted to tell everyone I knew. It was clear to see the projects Think Malawi fund have an immense impact on communities in Malawi, and the highlight on menstrual health is something incredibly important to me.
Stephen Cutts, Treasurer
Stephen Cutts is the Treasurer for ThinkMalawi and supports the charity from the financial and reporting side. Outside of Think Malawi Stephen is a Chartered Certified Accountant, Chartered Tax Adviser and member of the Society of Trust & Estate Practitioners (STEP). Stephen has a strong financial background and has 20 years’ experience in management, tax, accounting and reporting.
The volunteers at Think Malawi
Charles Ahenda-Bengo, SEO Volunteer
In February 2022 Charles joined Think Malawi to support the charity with search engine optimisation (SEO). Improving search engine visibility is part of the Think Malawi marketing team’s key goals to ensure brand awareness, support an increase in donations, and help fund more projects that support a brighter future through education for children in Malawi.
Charles’ background outside of Think Malawi led him to feeling strongly about the charity’s mission. He has worked in the renewable energy field as a Mechanical Engineer, then a project engineer out in the field in East Africa. With time, he became more involved with social enterprises that have an impact on marginalised rural communities through working in the solar irrigation space. Additionally, Charles volunteered with the Rotary Club while in Kenya, where he was involved in projects supplying girls in school with sanitary pads and drilling water wells for off-grid communities.
I have been involved in projects helping low-income girls in rural Kenya to get help with their menstrual health, therefore I know how much every bit of support helps to end period poverty. I am inspired by how the charity helps girls in Malawi to stay in education and improve their lives.
As an African that has lived and worked in the Continent for many years, I have seen too many times how charities and NGOs that mean well have set up relatively expensive projects in the community that are ultimately unsustainable, turning into white elephants. Think Malawi have done it differently by engaging with organisations and communities on the ground and supporting them by channelling all the donations straight to them, which is very refreshing and inspiring to see.
When reviewing blog content for my SEO work, I had the pleasure of going through many Think Malawi projects and Hope for Relief stands out. This was a project helping deaf schoolgirls and blind schoolgirls with their menstrual health and improve their standard of living.
Lionel Gache, PPC Volunteer
Lionel joined Think Malawi in January 2022 and supports the charity with digital marketing and pay per click advertising. Lionel is a Digital Marketing Expert and has run his own digital agency, Digiplus Consulting, for over 6 years. Outside of work, he loves nature and is a proud supporter of organisations such as Client Earth, Greenpeace and Mossy Earth who fight to keep the planet clean and give back to local communities. Lionel is also a multi-instrumentalist and has gigged over 20 times in an Iron Maiden tribute band, and author-to-be of the novel "L'Empreinte du Mal" as well as its English version "The Evil Within".
My mum was a regional director for Les Restos du Cœur (a French charity focused on distributing food to those in need) for nearly 2 decades, so it's only normal that I should follow in her footsteps! I'm already fairly involved in projects helping the planet so I was willing to focus more on people and communities. I found Steve's personal story and his overall approach very inspiring. To put it bluntly, I didn't want to be part of a charity where "the white man" goes around and tell people from the other side of the world what to do; I was looking for a charity which works on projects which are run either by or in partnership with local people and communities, and this is exactly why I was attracted by Think Malawi.
Ashley Grantham, Volunteer
Ashley is a project based volunteer at Think Malawi, helping with communications and marketing when it’s needed - she started volunteering with the charity in 2012. Ashley’s career is in the tech industry, working in various Communication and Media teams. She has a passion for sharing personal stories from unique areas of the world with an engaged online audience
The projects I’m most proud of are working with Kate on the Her Education Matters campaign, publishing an article on Yahoo UK interviewing Gertrude Banda for Mothering Sunday (which generated over 100,000 views and £1,000 in donations), and obtaining a £7,400 grant to help fund the Feeding Programme at Ganet’s Adventure School.
Before starting my volunteer journey in 2012, I would hear Steve McInerny share his story of the first time he met Gertrude – and how their relationship blossomed into this wonderful partnership at Ganet’s Adventure School. Each time that tale would move me in an emotional, heartfelt way. It eventually inspired me to reach out to see if I could help – with my background in digital content. A few years later, hearing Gertrude speak on a telephone call solidified this feeling. Her and Steve are inspiring people! Steve was always my inspiration. He juggled a full-time job while managing a charity (and his personal life!) for so many years.
I love hearing about the diverse campaigns which focus on supporting educational programmes with children. My favourites were the community stories from the Her Education Matters campaign – with women from the community helping these young ladies manage their menstruation to avoid taking time off from school. The drive these young women had to not let anything stand in their pursuit of knowledge and growth was incredible.
Alex McInerny, Volunteer
Alex has supported Think Malawi since 2015 and helps with activities such as preparing the annual accounts and helping with drawing up the Financial Report. Alex has also helped out with fundraising events and a technical issues, like email migration.
Alex’s background outside of work is in accounting, bookkeeping, retail, and more recently web development and management.
His background has been a great help to the charity, particularly with the finances side - and he is always available as an extra set of hands when needed.
You always want to be able to help out and make a positive change and with Think Malawi, seeing the difference that a small charity like this can make is rewarding. Knowing the work the other volunteers are putting in to help ensure that projects are always fully funded, encourages me to keep helping out where I can.
Learning about the results of the fundraising we do, how the campaigns come together and are implemented into making a real difference by the people in Malawi. Working on the finance side for Think Malawi it's great hearing updates from people in the charity that have been out to Malawi, or are in contact with people over there really helps colour things in and gives you the full picture.
Charlotte Walford, Volunteer
Charlotte has volunteered with Think Malawi since 2014 and has many years’ experience working on projects supporting Malawi before and since joining the charity.
Charlotte completed a Masters in Nutrition in Developing countries after an overseas career, including working in Ethiopia during the 1980s famine. Following this, Charlotte worked in Malawi for 7 years on various nutrition projects on the treatment and prevention of malnutrition for different NGOs, always working closely with the Ministry of Health. She lived in Malawi for nearly 20 years and now returns each year during the winter months to work or volunteer. Charlotte met Kate in Blantyre (Malawi) during her time there, learnt about Think Malawi through her, and has since seen the charity grow.
As I returned to Malawi annually, I offered my support to take donated items and documents to Ganet’s Adventure School, meet Gertrude the Head Mistress, see and report on progress of building works, the gardens growing produce to supplement the school feeding programme etc. When new proposals come in from local Malawian NGOs, I may be asked to review them and give my opinion on their viability, possible impact, effectiveness, or comment on the organisations submitting them. Having worked in rural communities, with NGOs and governments I have the experience in-country to advise widely on many aspects of Malawian life and culture.
Think Malawi has proved itself as an effective organisation, spending donated funds wisely on projects identified as needed, particularly infrastructure, and now more focussed on supporting girls students’ education. There are many challenges culturally for the girls pursuing their education and these can only be eased by gradually changing mindsets which has had to happen in all countries.
Supporting projects in Malawi with our network of volunteers
We are fortunate to have a committed network of volunteers, passionate about the charity and supporting education projects in Malawi. This allows the maximum amount of donations to go directly to causes in Malawi to improve access to education and the quality of life for young Malawians.
If you would like to support Think Malawi as a volunteer, new team members are always welcome and you can contact us at email@example.com.
Whilst our volunteers are the reason we can send 90% of donations directly to causes in Malawi, we would not be able to support these causes without our generous donors.
You can help give young Malawians better access to education, improve their quality of life, and ultimately contribute to Malawi’s development by making a donation to ThinkMalawi.
If you are passionate about making charitable donations to sustainable causes in Malawi, you can make a lasting difference by joining Think Malawi together as a regular donor. By making a regular donation from as little as £5 per month you will receive newsletter updates on how donations are being used, early access to events, and the opportunity to attend our AGM. Join Think Malawi together today.