Over 75% of the workforce in Malawi depend on the informal sector for their employment. It is estimated that as many as nine in ten rural and urban workers have informal jobs. Most are women and young people who have no other choice than the informal economy for their survival and livelihood. Previously, the informal sector, was regarded as a deterrent to investment, growth and development to the local economy. But as conditions of unemployment and poverty in Malawi are still very high and neither the public sector nor the formal private sector are able to provide enough jobs for its expanding labour forces, the informal sector is starting to be regarded as a source of livelihood to the unemployed and poor and an important provider of income opportunities.
Artisans are part of this informal economy of Malawi. Artisans may be defined as people who make products manually.
In developed countries, being an artisan is a career choice, and in many cases the artisan has a degree from a college or university. On the contrary, in developing countries, artisans are regarded as lower-status social groups, who learn their skills in the family or community in which they live, or receive skill training under government craft development initiatives.
Despite their low social status, artisans have transmitted their knowledge from one generation to the next, thus contributing to a wealth of heritage for Malawi. The products they produce, are made by hand and with materials that come from renewable resources and bring together a set of characteristics that make up the heritage and cultural identity of communities and people.
We are constantly looking for artisans in Malawi with extra-terrestrial smiles and unique skills, who use their indigenous knowledge and natural resources!
We have identified 3 sectors in Malawi that can be developed sustainably and turned into successful stories !
Historically, artisans were engaged in traditional activities meant for local use. Today many of these seized to exist due to the advent of machine-made products, leading to their decline. In an effort to survive...see our video for the complete story of the artisans!