The evolution of a social enterprise

Ellen Chilemba, class of 2017, is an economics major with an interest in studio art.

Four years ago at age 18, Ellen Chilemba launched Tiwale, a for-profit social enterprise in her home of Malawi. Her goal was to help women in one of the world’s poorest countries climb out of poverty and break the chain of child marriage.

Through the organization, Chilemba, now a rising senior at Mount Holyoke College, has helped close to 200 women find skills training, establish their own businesses, or secure jobs.

In a feature story published August 8, Forbes, which in 2015 named Chilemba one of Africa’s most promising entrepreneurs under 30, lauds her evolving vision and Tiwale’s growth.

The organization recently secured office space with classrooms and a workshop, and Chilemba has examined her original intentions and adjusted course after carefully listening to the women she is seeking to help.

In the article, Chilemba outlines some of the lessons she has learned, which include rethinking the original problem; involving the participants more fully; including the greater community; and helping the participants become changemakers within the community.

“Eventually, Tiwale women will be responsible for bringing other women in and training them too,” Chilemba said. “The focus is becoming more about learning something and then sharing it, rather than just learning something to advance yourself. We want to build in a way for women to pass along their skills.”

How will you change? Plan your visit.