Taste of Malawi as a project hinges on our training programme. The training is the foundation of the support we offer to the tailors on their way to financial independence. Our tailoring teachers in Malawi and tailors from the off-site team work together to continually optimise the curriculum in order to provide the women with the best possible training.

The training comprises two years, which not only build on each other in terms of content, but also offer the tailors different framework conditions.

Level One

Our students spend the first year of their apprenticeship in the classroom. There they learn the basics of tailoring, how to sew by hand or with a machine, how to take measurements, cut patterns and calculate material quantities. They also learn how to interact with customers and work out their wishes together with them. English, which is the second language of many women besides Chichewa, is also part of the curriculum. Some of the tailors bring crafting knowledge they already have, others are complete novices. At the end of the first year, however, they are all on the same level.

In Level One, the women pay for their training with a small fee. At first glance, this may seem contradictory in a non-profit project, but in the past we have found that many of the women who started the training at Taste of Malawi quickly lost interest in it and did not take it so seriously – if it costs nothing and they earn nothing, what does it matter if they come to class every day?

Since we introduced tuition fees, all those who decide to take up the training are really motivated and stick with it. Of course, in a poor country like Malawi, there are also families who cannot afford even the small fee. For such cases, we would like to set up a scholarship. We are currently working on the application and selection process for this.

Level Two

In the second year of the apprenticeship, the students leave the classroom and go to the workshop. There, the students work on products for our own brand INO and for other clients. They deepen their knowledge and are guided and supervised not only by the tailoring teachers, but also by other tailors who are former students of the programme.

For the work on the products, which we sell in order to finance the project, the Level Two tailors are of course also paid a small salary.

At the end of the year, the tailors receive a certificate from TEVETA (Technical Education, Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training Authority) about their training, which they can use to prove their level of knowledge to other employers or their own customers. The handing over of the certificates is celebrated in a small ceremony of course!

What’s next?

When the students have successfully completed the two-year training, they will be taken on by Taste of Malawi as permanent employees. They will then continue to work in the workshop on products for INO and on other orders, but will receive a higher salary than the students.

In 2020, as part of the Covid pandemic, we introduced a health insurance for our employed tailors. With only 6€ per month, we can insure one person in Malawi and we are very proud that we’ve managed to give our tailors this little bit of extra security!

Financial independence does not necessarily mean starting one’s own business. Our goal is to teach the students in the two years everything they need to know to open their own tailor shop in theory. However, it has been shown that the project is an attractive and secure job for most of the women and they are therefore happy to continue working at Taste of Malawi. And of course we are also happy if they stay with us as experienced tailors and support the next generation of students on their way. After all, at the end of the two years of training, they have become part of the family and the community in the workshop is an important part of the women’s social environment.