Malawi: Women religious superiors embrace entrepreneurial skills training.
Sr. Helen Kasaka, LSMI – Nairobi, Kenya.
Women religious superiors in Malawi have concluded their Annual General Assembly (AGM) under the auspices of the Association of Consecrated Women in Eastern and Central Africa (ACWECA) with a resounding affirmation to embrace the Sisters Blended Value Project (SBVP). The development project aims at developing social entrepreneurial skills among religious sisters.
Alleviating poverty in congregations
Sr. Celestine Nasiali of the Oblates of the Assumption and coordinator of the Sisters Blended Value Project explained that consecrated women are taught about transforming their social ministries into social entrepreneurial activities.
“Through this Project, congregations can start their own social enterprises that not only express their charism but also leaves them with revenue to become self–sustaining. The Project’s main goal is for sisters to launch and grow social enterprises,” said Nasiali.
The training aims to provide practical hands-on entrepreneurial skills to alleviate poverty among religious congregations in the ACWECA region. These projects should also benefit women and youth in the communities where the consecrated women work.
Sr. Nasiali emphasised that the charism or identity of the congregation needs to be reflected in the project. The particular project embarked upon must contribute to the sustenance of members of the religious congregation while at the same time supporting the sustainability of the project itself. Of equal importance is that the social enterprise also positively impacts the community where the women religious exercise their apostolate.
Reducing dependency on donor funding
The Sisters Blended Value Project aims to reduce dependency on donor funding for programmes run by sisters. Successful local projects arising from the initiative should foster and enhance the dignity of religious women. In any case, “donor funding is shrinking day by day, thus leaving the question of sustainability unaddressed,” explained Sr Nasiali.
Superior General of the Teresian Sisters, Sr. Agnes Jonas, thanked Sr Nasiali for her presentation and expressed her gratitude to the ACWECA staff for empowering religious women with social entrepreneurial skills.
“With this presentation, several sisters will no doubt venture into social entrepreneurship. It has also come as one of the resolutions during this annual ACWECA general meeting,” said Sr Jonas.
Expanding entrepreneurial skills
For her part, Sr. Stivelia Macloud of the Servants of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the only congregation in Malawi, implementing the Sisters Blended Value Project, shared experiences on how her congregation was faring with its social enterprises.
Plans are underway to organise similar courses for other ACWECA member countries in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.