In 2007, in visiting the Krizevac mountain in Malawi, trustees asked community groups in Chilomoni townshipwhat was the biggest problem. Their cry was loud and clear, “jobs”. One local man asked “why don’t we turn these falling-down old classrooms behind the church into a ‘Beehive’ of activity?”. This compelling idea was the start of Beehive Centre for Social Enterprise which has become a major source of vocational training, employment and enterprise creation.
Chilomoni is a township on the edge of Blantyre, one of the largest cities in Malawi. People move to Chilomoni for cheap housing in the hope of finding work in the city, but jobs are hard to find. Rapid urban growth compounds the problem as more people seek fewer opportunities, but the message from the community was not give us money, it was give us opportunity. This conversation was the beginning of something special and the founding of our guiding principal to generate the funding needed to transform the community within the community itself; breaking traditional reliance on external funding and charity handouts.
Through Beehive, the township around the base of the mountain is being transformed with the creation of a number of enterprises including everything from brick making to computer and plant rental. Beehive Centre For Social Enterprise is a locally managed and governed project supported by Krizevac to act as a hub of support so that entrepreneurs in Malawi can start new businesses. They all act as not-for-profits, with all surpluses generated being ploughed back into the enterprises and into projects that meet wider social need, such as the John Paul II Leadership and IT Training Academy and the Mother Teresa Children’s Centre.
Building Skills, Growing Jobs – Torrent Computer Rentals
Local youth groups have expressed a keen interest in learning computer skills in order to find work, which would give them a meaningful salary.
One year on, the extent of ambition of most students reached only to doing the next certificate – partly because of a lack of real jobs. Krizevac launched a small computer repair business which has grown into a substantial computer rental income generating business: Torrent computer rentals serves hundreds of customers throughout Malawi and does so with minimal outside support. It also provides many students with work experiences and employs the best of these to serve its growth.
Donation Multiplication – Plant and Vehicle Hire, Malawi
Inspired by the interest to cut costs wherever possible, the Krizevac construction team in Malawi, where possible, reduced reliance on hiring expensive equipment in favour of doing it directly. This has removed external reliance and given greater control of the supply chain in the process of construction…. but Krizevac has taken this approach a stage further and oversupplied its own needs to create new enterprises. So, having been let down in brick supply, Krizevac now makes its own blocks and sells blocks to others. Similarly, renting construction equipment is very costly in Malawi so Krizevac donated equipment to supply this need and then it purposely oversupplied to create what is now a substantial source of revenue – Torrent Plant and Vehicle Hire.
Krizevac Project has developed a unique supply chain, dependent on a network of experienced plant rental managers and company owners. This has enabled opportunistic purchase of good value equipment from auctions. A truck, imported to Malawi, will immediately be worth twice the cost of purchase and import, can be rented for many years generating revenue even beyond this value and creating desirable economic activity and employment in the process – much better than giving cash!
The central hub of support offers buildings, administrative and HR support to all the other functions. Beehive also makes sure that each and every worker is offered a meal everyday they work. Beehive is managed by Peter Nkata, an inspirational leader who supports all of his team to develop the skills needed to build organisations.