Illovo Sugar Malawi Plc supports Amisili Paulendo Women Artisans Group with workplace protective wear

* This is not merely a donation — it is an investment in the future of these artisans while ensuring their protection

* Against injuries such as cuts, burns, trips and falls as they do their work

* Which includes plumbing, electrical installations, fabrication and welding, brick laying and painting

By Duncan Mlanjira

Illovo Sugar Malawi Plc has sponsored workplace protective wear that include  safety boots and protective overalls worth K7.5 million as empowerment and support for the progress of Amisili Paulendo Women Artisans Group.


Amisili Paulendo program for women skilled workers offers mentoring & coaching; professional networks; scholarships; business financing; attachments/apprenticeships placements; international work exchange programs; profile database, among others

At the presentation ceremony today, Illovo’s Managing Director, Lekani Katandula said the investment is not merely a donation — “it is an investment in the future of these artisans while ensuring their protection against injuries such as cuts, burns, trips and falls as they do their work, which includes plumbing, electrical installations, fabrication and welding, brick laying and painting”.

He further said their support is not merely ceremonial but a testament to the company’s commitment to building a Thriving Malawian Community and its unwavering dedication to fostering positive change within the communities that Illovo thrives.

“Skilled women artisans in Malawi represents resilience, talent and determination in the face of numerous challenges, particularly in the construction industry of Malawi and for the females in this sector,” he said.

He took cognizance that founded by Mary Chokani Mphonda, “the Amisili Paulendo Program established the initiative in response to the challenges faced by women in the construction industry”.

“Among the notable challenges are job scarcity, lack of pay during attachments, and inadequate working conditions. Recent research conducted by Rodrick Chilipunde, Tukule Msukwa and Pilirani Tiwana — called ‘Challenges Female Artisans Face in the Malawian Construction Industry’ — has shed light on the formidable obstacles that female artisans encounter in Malawi.

“From insufficient maternity leave to wage discrimination, from sexual harassment to limited promotion opportunities, these challenges paint a stark reality for many women striving to make their mark in the construction sector.

“But amidst these challenges, there is a beacon of hope in the form of the Amisili Paulendo Program. Their commitment to skills development, their dedication to fostering a supportive environment through programs like the Incubation Program, and their unwavering spirit in the face of adversity are nothing short of inspiring.”

He added that Illovo proudly stands alongside the country’s skilled women artisans — thus their support in the form of protective wear.

“As it happens Illovo’s own top priority is safety both at work and at home. We therefore understand the importance of safety in the kind of work that they have chosen to do and of creating an environment where these talented artisans can thrive without fear of harm or injury.”

He added that 85 women under the Amisili Paulendo incubation project will benefit from the program, and he hoped that it would “inspire other women to take on these nontraditional roles in the construction industry”.


“By providing the necessary protective wear, we are not only ensuring the physical well-being of these women but also empowering them to pursue their craft with confidence and dignity.

“We believe that every woman deserves the opportunity to pursue her passion without compromise, and today, we take a step forward in making that vision a reality.

“As we witness the handover of these essential items, let us remember that our actions today have the power to shape a brighter tomorrow. Let us continue to stand together in solidarity, supporting one another as we strive to build a more inclusive, equitable society for all.”

He applauded skilled women artisans for inspiring the nation with their strength and resilience, saying: “Together, let us pave the way for a future where every woman can thrive and succeed.”

For her part,, Chokani Mphonda explained that Amisili Paulendo Program was founded 2021 while working on a construction project and she got interested in how artisans at the project were working.

“I noticed they lacked some basic project management skills to help them do their job well and also necessary soft skills to help them in their career. As a learning professional, I thought about starting a capability program for all artisans.


“It wasn’t until a year later, when I came across two young women artisan plumbers that the focus changed from all artisans to focusing on young women. A meeting with one of the young women artisan who is a founding member, Mercy Kamwendo would lead to the formation of the Skilled Women Artisans in Malawi group.”

She added that membership to the group is free to any young woman enrolled in the TEVET programs or other vocational programs, or those who completed their studies —  targetting programs such plumbing, electrical installation & electronics, fabrication & welding, carpentry & joinery, bricklaying, painting and decoration.

“Pretty much those working in the construction industry. The average age so far is 24 years old. We also have eight female instructors as members, these serve more as role models to the ladies and we also have a few women artisans who are in formal employment with Lilongwe Water Board and ESCOM.

“Over the last year, it has been interesting to note that we have been getting requests to join the group from the artisans in the tailoring, ICT and auto mechanics programs.”

She further said when they launched Amisili Paulendo program they had a membership of about 120 members, which has grown to about 300.


“Through our Amisili Paulendo program, we continue to nurture, enable and empower our young women artisans. Our Ngwazi za Chikazi, as they are proudly called, continue to hold each other’s hands as they take up their space in the male dominated world.”

She thus applauded Illovo for the support, saying the women artisans need protective wear to keep them safe as most can’t afford to buy them.

The program work activities are also aligned to the MW2063 national vision through Enabler 1 — Mindset Change with the focus on area number 6 of building positivity in instilling the mindset of Ndizotheka (it is possible.

It is also aligned to Enabler 5 of Human Capital Development with the Focus on Areas 1 and 6 — education and skills development,” saying: “We are complementing what these ladies are learning through the community and national technical colleges to build well round ladies with excellent skills for the labour market.

On ender equality, it it to ensure the women artisans are empowered and respected in their workplaces.