Illovo Sugar Malawi Plc invests K150m into MUST’s Endowment Fund

Professor Malata receives the investment from Illovo’s Mtambo Banda

* This Endowment Fund agreement is part of Illovo’s purpose of creating a thriving Malawian community

* It will contribute favourably to Illovo’s position in contributing to the MW2063 development agenda

By Duncan Mlanjira

In recognition of the country’s first-of-its-kind sustainable support for needy tertiary students, Illovo Sugar Malawi has invested K150 million into the Endowment Fundwhich Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST) launched in July last year.

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At the presentation of the funding at MUST’s campus at Goliati in Thyolo on Wednesday, the two institutions also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to cement the new beginning of their partnership.

Illovo Sugar Malawi’s HR Director Khumbo Mtambo Banda they are pleased to be part of MUST’s initiative that aims to keep  disadvantaged but deserving students to complete their studies than just watch them as they drop out of college because of lack of tuition fees and other needs.

“I commend MUST for this innovative initiative,” she said. “We are excited to be contributing to the development of Malawi’s future leaders who will qualify to benefit from the scholarship.

“This Endowment Fund agreement is part of Illovo’s purpose of creating a thriving Malawian community by giving back to the communities in which we operate.

“Furthermore, this agreement will contribute favourably to Illovo’s position in contributing to the MW2063 development agenda and enhance existing relationships with MUST — as one of Illovo’s stakeholders.”

She added that Illovo targets to boost its female employee’s representation, especially in its technically-inclined roles — thus tapping such expertise from MUST itself.

“Illovo has a diversity and inclusion strategy that wishes to ensure that by 2025, we have, at least, 30% of females leaders in our business. Some may ask why 30% and not 50%.

“Research shows that 30% is a threshold you cease to be a minority. For a business set up as ours, this is no mean ambition. The decision to invest in this Fund is driven towards facilitating more women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics-inclined roles (STEM).”

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Mtambo Banda further said for Illovo to influence as many females to stay in STEM roles, they “need to start from education and expose these women into the work place early”.

“As you may be aware, research confirms about 50% trained women in STEM roles are lost along the way through change of career due to various reasons.

“The Illovo Sugar Malawi’s Endowment Fund will provide full scholarship to female students — covering tuition fees, accommodation, upkeep allowances and support their research costs,”she said adding that “existence of such a scholarship will go a long way in encouraging girls to pursue science and technology-related programmes — which for so long have been the domain of boys”.

She quoted former USA First Lady Michelle Obama, who once said; ‘Investing in a girls education is an essential way to investing in a better world’ — thus the “investment from the Endowment Fund shall be used to support needy but highly intelligent female students”.

In her vote of thanks, MUST’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Address Malata applauded Illovo for targeting female students, adding credence that the country needs as many women in science and technology.

She described MUST as the “world class centre of higher learning and strives to be in line with MW2063’s pillar in building strong human capital.

“We are delighted with the support from Illovo Sugar Malawi — for us to train as many women in science and technology and with this partnership, we invite Illovo to keep engaging with us.”

She assured Illovo that they can benefit from MUST in many ways to solve any of they problems, be it engineering, technology or research.

Malata emphasised that they shall never allow any students to drop out of MUST because of lack of tuition fees and other needs and assured that their students are very committed to their academic studies — which is a huge advantage.

She commended Illovo for creating a legacy, which is the motto of MUST’s Endowment Fund — ‘Create True Legacy’ — in the university’s appeal to stakeholders to participate in the initiative.

She concluded by quoting former South Africa President, late Nelson Mandela, who said: ‘If you want to go fast, go alone; but if you want to go far, go with others’ — which is used to inspire the corporate world to support the Endowment Fund.

At the official launch last year, Vice-President Saulos Chilima, who was guest of honour and spiced up one of the activities by playing in a golf tournament that various corporate companies sponsored, also applauded MUST for the Fund and encouraged other universities to borrow a leaf from this initiative.

Chilima during the golf tournament to launch MUST Endowment Trust

He had said beyond what the government was doing with the loans board, such initiatives were welcome over and above scholarships that are given by some private sector organizations such as National Bank of Malawi, FDH, NICO and Old Mutual.

He had applauded public and private sectors for promoting higher education byaddressing challenges needy students face in different
institutions.

In her speech, Mtambo Banda added credence to what Chilima had alluded to, saying Illovo’s intention is “to continuously invest in the fund, so long as we may be able to do so”.

Recipients of Illovo’s Fund shall be selected during the second semester and be available forward in the first semester of the new academic year.

The number of awards made in a given year and the amount of the awards shall be based upon available expendable amounts in that year. Awards shall be credited at the beginning of the academic year.

“We look forward to a beneficial and budding agreement between Illovo and MUST and urge the students to continue to work hard towards attainment of these scholarships as they are the leader of tomorrow,” Mtambo Banda said.

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