Building the Future of “The Warm Heart of Africa”

July 6, 2016
Alexandra Frank photo of Malawi

Photo by Counterpart Staff: Alexandra Frank, Malawi


On July 6, 1964, Malawi gained its independence from the British. In the fifty-two years since, this beautiful southern African nation has faced some unique challenges on its development path. In spite of these issues, the nation has long been known as The Warm Heart of Africa, due to the kindness of Malawians who are always willing to help a friend or a stranger. Despite being one of the most ethnically diverse nations on the continent, the people of Malawi remain deeply connected and have worked across sectors to build the future of their nation.

In the last two years, Counterpart International has had the pleasure of working with some of the most inspiring civil society organizations, leaders and thinkers in Malawi. Inspired by their work, on June 9th and 10th, 2016, we invited more than 250 civil society organizations (CSOs) from across Malawi and Africa, to the first-of-its-kind Working Together for Malawi Conference in Lilongwe.

Facilitating a cross-sectoral dialogue, we provided leaders with tools that would allow them to more effectively achieve the goals and overcome barriers that are common to all CSOs. This groundbreaking conference was the first time that civil society leaders had come together in Malawi on this scale, and the response from participants in person and on social media was overwhelmingly positive.

The two day conference was attended by over 400 civil society representatives, each of whom had the chance to engage with CSO leaders from around the world, and featured a keynote by the US Ambassador to Malawi, Virginia Palmer.

Presentation topics included building a strong governing board and internal leadership, planning for sustainability and building and maintaining a constituency, and participants had the opportunity to network and participate in innovative group training small group sessions (including Breaking the Cycle: Supporting Resilience and Development in Malawi, Measuring your Impact: Monitoring and Evaluation and Communicating Results, and more). By creating these in-depth discussions and fostering one-on-one interactions, we wanted to connect these organizations and leaders to the diverse skills and knowledges in the room, share best practices, and ultimately enable them to become solution creators in their own communities.

Thank you all for your hard work. Happy Independence Day Malawi!

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