Economically empowering communities to transform orphan care.
Photo by Andrea Tese
1 out of every 4 people in Malawi
is an orphaned or vulnerable child.
Malawi is the 9th poorest
country in the world
1 million children are orphans
74% of the population lives
on less than $1.25 per day
Right now, 1 in 4 people in the East African nation of Malawi is an orphan or vulnerable child. These children are living below the poverty line in need of school supplies, food, and support right now. The good news is that we are addressing this age-old problem in a revolutionary way: helping children today while building the financial capacity of their communities for tomorrow.
Of children do not complete middle school
Of children drop out of school by the fourth grade.
Of children under five are stunted by malnutrition.
But the entrepreneurial spirit of the local people is greater. It creates the opportunity to have lasting change on Malawi’s children. One of the biggest myths is that children are placed in institutions because they have no parents. The truth is that most are actually in institutions because their parents or extended family cannot afford to feed, clothe, and educate them. goods for good equips local people with the resources to pull themselves out of poverty and raise these children in their home villages, in a nurturing environment, surrounded by friends and family.
To address this great need, we create innovative solutions for Malawi and its orphans. These solutions ultimately result in sustainable community support and increased orphan care services.
We build the financial capacity of communities in Africa
so they can provide orphan care.
76,000 orphans receiving better care
10 small businesses launched
$26,000 generated from
We approach orphan care in a revolutionary way, by applying the proven principles of microenterprise. We believe this is how we will once and for all tackle the orphan crisis; and our community partners agree. We partner directly with Malawian community centers to equip them with the resources and industry knowledge required to launch successful small businesses. In so doing, they become fiscally equipped to care for orphans. They also create jobs and boost the local economy.
There is a strong market for affordable poultry in Malawi and an attractive balance of risk versus return. Chickens are resilient to climate fluctuations during the dry and rainy seasons and do not require as much land as larger animals that graze. We give our farms competitive advantages by installing green technologies, such as drip irrigation, solar power, and rocket stove heating to keep our chicks healthy and warm.
Capitalizing on the success of our Tailor Training Program, we ensure our tailors have the opportunity to turn their skills into income. Tailors in Malawi often run their own private shops, limiting their ability to source large contracts and grow their businesses. We demonstrate the power of jointly owned enterprises by helping our tailors form co-ops and win major clothing and accessory contracts in both the African and U.S. marketplaces. In 2012, one community center’s co-op sewed over 300 tote bags using excess fabric from KnollTextiles and designs by Cynthia Vincent for sale across the United States. Other co-ops have completed contracts for school uniforms and work suits for agriculture companies.
90% of Malawians support themselves through subsistence farming, harvesting crops to feed their families.1 This means that almost all Malawians are engaged in agriculture, not for profit, but as a means of survival. It also means that agricultural knowledge is widespread. Many children grow up helping their relatives grow food for the family. We give our community centers the chance to turn farming for survival into farming for profit.
We tailor each business plan to the skill levels and market access of our unique partner communities. Because of our thorough five-phase process, each enterprise is financially independent by the end of year two and operationally independent by the end of year three.
Partner Assessment + Community Buy-In: Our model capitalizes on the existing entrepreneurial zeal of our local partners and our long-standing relationships with the communities. goods for good uses strict partner criteria to assess each community center's capacity to run a successful enterprise. We prioritize employing vulnerable people, including those living with or affected by HIV/AIDS, and ensure a gender balance amongst those employed.
Business Plan Development + Training: goods for good and its partners perform a comprehensive market survey to determine the most viable type of business for each center. We then facilitate extensive management and financial training in partnership with the International Labour Organization. Armed with this knowledge, our leaders create a business plan in partnership with goods for good. Each plan includes a budget, which controls for risk, addresses market fluctuations, and sets the community up for success.
Enterprise Launch: Once the business plan is complete, we provide the startup capital and technical support for the first year of operation. To ensure financial independence in year two and insure against future shocks, the community center deposits 50% of the first year's profit into a savings account. The remaining 50% of profit is allocated between direct orphan care programs and operating support for the center. 70% of that profit finances orphan care programs, including school scholarships and nutrition programs. The remaining 30% supports operations, such as staff salaries and center improvements.
Monitor + Evaluate: goods for good's local staff closely monitors and evaluates the business.
Solvent Enterprise: During years two and three, goods for good will continue to monitor the enterprise. The community will continue to save funds and invest the remaining profit in orphan care programming and operations. By the end of the third year, goods for good will drastically cut back monitoring of this program and leave the enterprise to function independently.
Goods such as pens, shoes, and fabric met the immediate needs of orphans. Now, we do good by strengthening the long-term financial capacity of community centers while still addressing the urgent need to keep orphaned children in school.
A child’s opportunities to achieve almost always depend on his or her education. Our bundle of goods is a passport to an education. It includes uniforms, pens, and shoes, to keep orphans and vulnerable children in school. These goods also ease the financial burden on families that take in orphans, helping keep children in their communities and out of institutions.
Uniforms are required for children to attend school. But their $3 cost often prevents orphans from being able to afford them. Rather than simply give away uniforms, goods for good provides surplus fabric to community centers for vocational tailoring programs. These training programs teach adults marketable skills and give them the chance to form a community enterprise and earn an income. As a graduation requirement, our tailoring students sew uniforms with excess fabric, which are then donated to local orphans.
The cost of pens is often a major barrier to education. Since we began our pen program in 2007, we have consistently witnessed an increase in school attendance and in students completing assignments, and a decrease in piecework performed by students trying to earn money for school materials. All of the pens we provide are new, unused surplus materials from the United States and Malawi.
Children in Malawi often walk miles barefoot to attend the nearest school. This discourages them from attending regularly and puts them at risk for diseases and injury. Children who do graduate from primary school are only admitted into high school if they own a pair of shoes. We complement the provision of school uniforms and pens with a pair of new school shoes and where possible, a single dose of de-worming medicine. In partnership with TOMS Shoes and the Ministry of Health, we give 40,000 children shoes each year.
Our work has immediate results and lasting impact.
30% increased school attendance
22 small businesses launched by 2015
Over 376 adults trained in marketable skills
Funded and expanded orphan service programs, feeding programs, school scholarships, and more
Began and grew the community centers’ savings funds
Trained adults in entrepreneurship, bookkeeping and chicken rearing
9 small businesses launched
22 community enterprises will be running by 2015
353 people trained in marketable skills
Because goods for good works in partnership with communities, a little good goes a long way with us. When you make one community center financially sustainable, you help support its 23 satellite centers, and tens of thousands of children in surrounding villages. That’s how we turn each good into a greater good.
1.4 million pens provided
206,325 shoes provided
5,511 children given de-worming treatments with their shoes
23,728 uniforms and garments created with donated fabric
120,922 meters of fabric repurposed
Help us help now.
There are over 1 million orphans in Malawi and many more vulnerable children. 50% of children drop out of school by the fourth grade; many do so because they lack access to basic school supplies.
Interested in traveling to Malawi on a goods for good partner trip? Let us know and our team will contact you with more about our upcoming partner trips.
Are you a college student interested in interning in our Malawi office for the summer? Tell us more about yourself and a member of our team will be in touch.
The goods for good Young Professionals Committee (YPC) is a group of talented and committed professionals, in their 20s and 30s, who donate their time and diverse skills to GFG projects. In addition the YPC hosts our winter fundraising event, the Party For Good. Interested in joining? Tell us more about yourself.
We got started by listening to our partners.
goods for good builds the financial capacity of communities in Africa so they can provide orphan care.
Founder & Executive Director
Having lost her father at a young age, Melissa knows firsthand how losing a parent changes the course of a child’s life. Due in part to this experience, Melissa has committed herself to ensuring that the death of a parent does not determine a child’s fate. In 2005 Melissa’s position at the United Nations took her to Malawi, an African country where one million of the country’s 16 million people are orphans. She brought with her basic goods, such as school supplies, and saw the immediate and profound impact they had on Malawi’s children.
Struck by the country’s orphan crisis, the altruistic and entrepreneurial spirit of local leaders, and the big impact of this seemingly simple concept, Melissa founded goods for good. Melissa set up two offices, one in New York City and the other in
the capital of Malawi, Lilongwe. She spent her first year as the
Executive Director of goods for good in Malawi traveling from
village to village, forging partnerships with local community
centers. Today, these relationships are the foundation of goods for good’s success. In 2012, Melissa and her team launched Community Enterprise in order to couple the immediate impact of goods with the long-term impact of financial sustainability. Click here to learn more about Community Enterprise and how to get involved.
Managing Director, Julian Wolf
Senior Vice President, Citigroup
Jeremy Kaplan, MBA
Chief Operating Officer, SK Properties
Melissa Kushner, MPA
Founder & Executive Director, goods for good
Mark L. Lakin, Esq.
Co-Founder, Epic Road
Fine Art Travel Photographer
Attorney at Law
Berkenkamp Realty Group
Chief of Party, Abt Associates
Esnath J. Kalyati
Consultant in Gender, Early Childhood and Social Development
Catherine Chisomo Mazombwe Kutsaira
Examiner 1, Reserve Bank of Malawi, Consumer Education and Complaint Handling Microfinance and Capital Market Supervision Department
Legal Practitioner, Chibambo & Company
Lecturer, Blantyre International University