Vocational Training with FOCCAD

In February 2023, we began our latest vocational training project with the Foundation For Community And Capacity Development (FOCCAD), based in Malawi’s Nkhotakota district.  They use an apprenticeship approach to deliver training to marginalized individuals, including young women who had dropped out of school or withdrawn from early forced marriages and young men who either dropped out of school or were unemployed.

Established business men and women in the region are carefully selected to undertake the training of our project participants.  Trainees attend the artisans’ business premises 4 days a week to learn their choice of trade, either Carpentry, Bricklaying, Welding & Metal Fabrication, Electrical Installation & Repair or Tailoring.

At the start of the project, 86% of participants had no regular income, and with only a third of trainees having progressed beyond primary school education, their options for earning an income were limited.  Our project with FOCCAD is helping to change their prospects.  76 individuals have completed 12 months of technical training, developed life skills and gained confidence with numeracy and literacy.

Having only just finished their training, our project participants are already using their skills to start earning an income.  Under the careful guidance of their trainers, the students learn first the theory and then the practical skills associated with their chosen trade.  As their skills develop, the trainees are able to take on jobs for customers and thereby start earning money whilst still in the training phase.  These earnings can help meet day-to-day needs or enable trainees to start building stocks of materials and equipment in preparation for establishing their own businesses in the future.

In these early days, trainees report average monthly earnings between MK10,000 (about £5) – 60,000 (about £27) depending on the trade.  As the graduates begin to establish and grow their own businesses, they can expect to see greater growth in income, and will receive additional skills support and mentoring through our follow-up Transition to Work programme.

Fatima taking measurements for a dress for one of the customers.

27-year-old Fatima has formed a tailoring business group with 2 other trainees. She said, “Before training I could not get money”, but as she progressed with her training, Fatima began earning money from sewing dresses and shirts.  After 6 months she was earning an average of MWK 2,000 – MWK 3,999 per week.  Now, at the end of her training, she is earning an average of MWK 8,000 – MWK 9,999 per week.




James (third from left) with fellow members of Thandizo builders business group

James is 20 years old.  He was unable to stay in school because the fees were too high for his family to afford. Before training, he was able to earn a small amount of money selling fish.  But his friends told James about the bricklaying training with FOCCAD, just a ten-minute walk from his home.  James explained “There are lots of opportunities for builders, especially when people have money after the harvest.” 

Under the supervision of his trainer, James learned how to take measurements, lay foundations and build practice walls, before working on a bathroom and bedroom at a client’s house.  James is currently earning MWK 15,001 – MWK 20,000 per week and has big plans for his future: he intends to become a professional builder, to build his own home and have and support a family.


Miness wiring the house during practical training

Electrical Installation

Back in 2022, 23 year old Miness she told us how “life is difficult at home”. Without a means of earning an income, she said “I am interested in learning something new”. Miness has completed her training in Electrical Installation.
At 6 months into the project, Miness was earning MWK 12,501 – MWK 15,000 per week, doing piece work in electrical installation and maintenance work.  She told us then: “I am happy that through the training I am able to earn money on my own.  I help my family in buying basic needs such as food, household necessities”.

As her vocational training comes to an end, Miness tells us that she has earned MWK 35,000 from her electrical services, and she is planning to start her own business.





Secret at Mr Kwasya’s workshop

Motorcycle Mechanics

Before joining our project with FOCCAD, single mother of two young children, Secret, was busy juggling family commitments and running a small restaurant.  She wasn’t earning enough to set aside savings, and was anxious to find an alternative means of supporting her family.  Secret liked to tinker with and fix things at home.  She was confident that she could earn a good income through learning Motor Mechanics.  Joining 5 other trainees, Secret started attending Mr. Julius Kwasya’s workshop, not far from her home where she lives with her parents.  Mr Kwasya worked closely with Secret and her fellow trainees,  to supervise, guide and assess their progress.  Secret quickly took to the training, which began with theory lessons, looking at each component of the machines to find out how it worked.  Later the training moved on to practical tasks.

After 6 months, Secret was able to use her Motorcycle Mechanics skills to earn MWK 8,000 per week.  Now she is earning MWK 15,001 – MWK 20,000 per week. Secret is the first in her family to become a mechanic. Her parents have been very supportive and encouraging throughout her training.  Secret wants to run her own garage and will continue with the restaurant.


We can’t wait to follow the progress of our trainees, we’ll bring you further updates as they enter our Transition to Work programme and build their business enterprises.


Projects such as these would not be possible without you.  If you would like to support our life-changing projects, please click here to give a one-off gift or set up a regular donation.  Thank you.

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March 2024


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