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A Year of Youth Spotlight Series – Deliwe Makata of Malawi

June 14th, 2024
A short bio about yourself

I am Deliwe Makata from Malawi. I hold a Master’s degree in Development Policy from the Korea Development Institute School of Public Policy and Management, which is in South Korea. I am also the founder and team leader of Swift Capital, an author, and a speaker.

Tell us a little about your event/project/work (how it came about, number of young people benefited and impact it had)

I am the Founder and Executive Director of Women Inspire, an empowerment organisation that has since 2016 worked on creating opportunities for women, youth, and girls in areas of education, leadership, and economic advancement. With this initiative, we have implemented over ten successful projects since inception, and we have worked in four major districts across the country, reaching over ten thousand young people. We believe that even more people have been reached indirectly.

Currently, our biggest project is the construction of a learning and growth centre in one of Malawi’s underprivileged communities. We want to use this centre as a hub for children in school, as well as those out of school, in rural areas. They will receive education and financial literacy. We estimate this centre will serve more than 400 young people at each project level.

I am also engineering the acceleration of an economic growth micro-credit start-up called Swift Capital. It supports rurally-based entrepreneurs with additional capacity for business and finance management as well as cash transfers. Swift Capital also advances the knowledge of financial literacy which we see as a driver of financial and economic advancement. So far, we have provided affordable loans to over 50 rural-based businesses, and our aim is to reach 250 loans by the end of 2024.

What has inspired you to work on this issue?

My story of leadership and impact began with a heartbreak. And trust me, it’s true. I went through a very damaging heartbreak, and at the time, being so young and not mature enough to handle pain, I almost lost myself. One day, while I was thinking and allowing the pain to take its course, I asked myself some questions.

Those questions were what birthed Women Inspire. At the time, I just wanted to create a platform where girls are there for girls. I wanted the underprivileged to be represented and to be given a voice. I wondered – if a girl like me could go through such a time and feel alone and helpless, what of other girls who are going through more than just emotional pain?

From there a vision was birthed and, over the years, it has grown into an organisation that helps to unlock the potential of girls, women, and youth with education, leadership, and economic empowerment. I want to ensure that young people are empowered to be self-sufficient and are also able actively participate in the development processes of their communities.

Financial and economic empowerment are at the core of my heart. I believe that a financially empowered person can make decisions and choices that transcend the norm, and I want to see young people reaching far beyond what society has termed as normal.

Why is this issue important to address in your community/country

Education is the key to development. I believe that it’s important for initiatives like mine to ensure that we complement the efforts our government is putting into making education more accessible. By empowering young people to understand the need for education and encouraging them to work hard and believe in their dreams, we ensure that the efforts that are being put into the investment in education are better utilised.

On the other hand, it’s important that people realise that change will not just come by sitting and expecting the government to do something. I want young people to oversee their growth. I want young people in my country to shift their mindset from expectation to action. A lot of the change that my country needs requires an empowered and a dynamic youthful generation. One that understands their potential and role in bringing change. This is exactly what my efforts are aiming to achieve.

What was the most memorable moment during the event/project/work?

I have so many memorable moments. Whenever we go into communities and interact with young people, the hugs are my most treasured interactions. When they see us approaching and are excited to have a training or coaching session, I get a sense of fulfilment.

During one of our 6-month projects, we gave out certificates to those who successfully completed the project, and one of them shared a story of their gratitude and how the program changed their perspective and their life. Listening to those testimonies of change inspires me to work hard.

What is the dream for you and your project?

As a young leader, my priority is academic and professional growth. I was recently admitted to a PhD programme in Management (Leadership, Organisations and Behaviour) with the Henley Business School at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom. I aim to grow in knowledge, as I believe it boosts my capacity for leadership and influence. I also plan to continue writing and releasing books as well as mentoring other young people in my personal capacity.

With our work and projects, the goal is to nurture both Women Inspire and Swift Capital to be financially stable and sustainably operational entities. We want to expand our reach in numbers and in using innovative approaches to our work. As Swift Capital, we have plans to become a reliable fintech solution for the unbanked who require banking solutions that don’t exploit them. Over the next five years, we expect to contribute to the financial sustainability of Malawi and Africa as a whole.

What motivates you to keep advocating and challenging yourself?

I have always been inspired by evolution. Knowing that I am contributing to improving the social and economic landscape of my country and continent motivates me to work hard. I believe that my voice matters, as well as my efforts. It starts with me, and I will do my best to ensure that I contribute positively to the sustainable growth and development of my environment.

As a single mother, the thought of my daughter also inspires me to work very hard. I don’t want her to ever look far away for inspiration, courage, and resilience. I work hard so she will always have strong role models and tools to achieve.

Tell us an unusual fact or piece of trivia about yourself?

I have watched one television show for the past year or so – Brooklyn Nine-Nine. And when I’ve finished watching one season, I watch it all over again.

What is your favourite quote?

“Solid character will reflect itself in consistent behaviour, while poor character will seek to hide behind deceptive words and actions” by Dr Myles Munroe.

What one youth issue would you like the Commonwealth Youth Programme to address in the coming years and why?

Education and Skill Development.Young people must have access to high-quality education and chances for skills development if they are to be ready for the quickly evolving labour market. I suggest equipping of young people with essential skills for the digital economy, bridging the disparities in educational resources, and removing obstacles to higher education.

Addressing the issue of education and skill development requires a multifaceted approach that involves policymakers, educators, businesses, and communities working together to create an environment that fosters learning, innovation, and opportunity. The Commonwealth Youth Programme should engage this diverse range of stakeholders to promote awareness and find more opportunities for young people to learn, grow and develop.

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A short bio about yourself

I am Deliwe Makata from Malawi. I hold a Master’s degree in Development Policy from the Korea Development Institute School of Public Policy and Management, which is in South Korea. I am also the founder and team leader of Swift Capital, an author, and a speaker.

Tell us a little about your event/project/work (how it came about, number of young people benefited and impact it had)

I am the Founder and Executive Director of Women Inspire, an empowerment organisation that has since 2016 worked on creating opportunities for women, youth, and girls in areas of education, leadership, and economic advancement. With this initiative, we have implemented over ten successful projects since inception, and we have worked in four major districts across the country, reaching over ten thousand young people. We believe that even more people have been reached indirectly.

Currently, our biggest project is the construction of a learning and growth centre in one of Malawi’s underprivileged communities. We want to use this centre as a hub for children in school, as well as those out of school, in rural areas. They will receive education and financial literacy. We estimate this centre will serve more than 400 young people at each project level.

I am also engineering the acceleration of an economic growth micro-credit start-up called Swift Capital. It supports rurally-based entrepreneurs with additional capacity for business and finance management as well as cash transfers. Swift Capital also advances the knowledge of financial literacy which we see as a driver of financial and economic advancement. So far, we have provided affordable loans to over 50 rural-based businesses, and our aim is to reach 250 loans by the end of 2024.

What has inspired you to work on this issue?

My story of leadership and impact began with a heartbreak. And trust me, it’s true. I went through a very damaging heartbreak, and at the time, being so young and not mature enough to handle pain, I almost lost myself. One day, while I was thinking and allowing the pain to take its course, I asked myself some questions.

Those questions were what birthed Women Inspire. At the time, I just wanted to create a platform where girls are there for girls. I wanted the underprivileged to be represented and to be given a voice. I wondered – if a girl like me could go through such a time and feel alone and helpless, what of other girls who are going through more than just emotional pain?

From there a vision was birthed and, over the years, it has grown into an organisation that helps to unlock the potential of girls, women, and youth with education, leadership, and economic empowerment. I want to ensure that young people are empowered to be self-sufficient and are also able actively participate in the development processes of their communities.

Financial and economic empowerment are at the core of my heart. I believe that a financially empowered person can make decisions and choices that transcend the norm, and I want to see young people reaching far beyond what society has termed as normal.

Why is this issue important to address in your community/country

Education is the key to development. I believe that it’s important for initiatives like mine to ensure that we complement the efforts our government is putting into making education more accessible. By empowering young people to understand the need for education and encouraging them to work hard and believe in their dreams, we ensure that the efforts that are being put into the investment in education are better utilised.

On the other hand, it’s important that people realise that change will not just come by sitting and expecting the government to do something. I want young people to oversee their growth. I want young people in my country to shift their mindset from expectation to action. A lot of the change that my country needs requires an empowered and a dynamic youthful generation. One that understands their potential and role in bringing change. This is exactly what my efforts are aiming to achieve.

What was the most memorable moment during the event/project/work?

I have so many memorable moments. Whenever we go into communities and interact with young people, the hugs are my most treasured interactions. When they see us approaching and are excited to have a training or coaching session, I get a sense of fulfilment.

During one of our 6-month projects, we gave out certificates to those who successfully completed the project, and one of them shared a story of their gratitude and how the program changed their perspective and their life. Listening to those testimonies of change inspires me to work hard.

What is the dream for you and your project?

As a young leader, my priority is academic and professional growth. I was recently admitted to a PhD programme in Management (Leadership, Organisations and Behaviour) with the Henley Business School at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom. I aim to grow in knowledge, as I believe it boosts my capacity for leadership and influence. I also plan to continue writing and releasing books as well as mentoring other young people in my personal capacity.

With our work and projects, the goal is to nurture both Women Inspire and Swift Capital to be financially stable and sustainably operational entities. We want to expand our reach in numbers and in using innovative approaches to our work. As Swift Capital, we have plans to become a reliable fintech solution for the unbanked who require banking solutions that don’t exploit them. Over the next five years, we expect to contribute to the financial sustainability of Malawi and Africa as a whole.

What motivates you to keep advocating and challenging yourself?

I have always been inspired by evolution. Knowing that I am contributing to improving the social and economic landscape of my country and continent motivates me to work hard. I believe that my voice matters, as well as my efforts. It starts with me, and I will do my best to ensure that I contribute positively to the sustainable growth and development of my environment.

As a single mother, the thought of my daughter also inspires me to work very hard. I don’t want her to ever look far away for inspiration, courage, and resilience. I work hard so she will always have strong role models and tools to achieve.

Tell us an unusual fact or piece of trivia about yourself?

I have watched one television show for the past year or so – Brooklyn Nine-Nine. And when I’ve finished watching one season, I watch it all over again.

What is your favourite quote?

“Solid character will reflect itself in consistent behaviour, while poor character will seek to hide behind deceptive words and actions” by Dr Myles Munroe.

What one youth issue would you like the Commonwealth Youth Programme to address in the coming years and why?

Education and Skill Development.Young people must have access to high-quality education and chances for skills development if they are to be ready for the quickly evolving labour market. I suggest equipping of young people with essential skills for the digital economy, bridging the disparities in educational resources, and removing obstacles to higher education.

Addressing the issue of education and skill development requires a multifaceted approach that involves policymakers, educators, businesses, and communities working together to create an environment that fosters learning, innovation, and opportunity. The Commonwealth Youth Programme should engage this diverse range of stakeholders to promote awareness and find more opportunities for young people to learn, grow and develop.