Informal economy

Promoting entrepreneurship to combat youth unemployment

Photo courtesy of Chance for Change, a UK-based NGO operating in Malawi.

Photo courtesy of Chance for Change, a UK-based NGO operating in Malawi.

My latest article for looks at youth unemployment in Malawi. With half of the country’s population below 18 and a fifth in the age bracket 15-24, the lack of decent jobs for young people is increasingly a problem. Read the full article here and join the discussion!


My latest at Tax breaks to improve commutes in Lilongwe

This month’s theme over at was all about how people in cities around the world get to work. I wrote about how commuters in Malawi could soon enjoy a more pleasant and reliable ride to work, as the country’s new government has bowed to industry lobbying and pledged to provide tax breaks for the import of new minibuses. The move is set to make minibuses more competitive against larger buses, as well as help improve the industry’s poor safety record. Read more here and join the discussion!

There’s me again! @ProtoCity

Wrote this piece about kabazas – bicycle taxis – in Lilongwe a while ago for ProtoCity. Enjoy.

(Quick update on the article: Joyce Banda lost the elections, which may signal the end of any motorbike scheme…)


Mind the (gender and age) gap.


The latest Urban Talks even took place last night at Crossroads Hotel in Lilongwe. Sponsored by UN-Habitat and organised by the Urban Research Institute, the public debate took on the topics of inequality, women, and youth in the city. On the panel were Pamela Mkwanda, UN Women; Harvey Chimaliro, Concerned Youth Organisation; Maggie Banda, Women Legal Resource Center; Justin Saidi, Principal Secretary Ministry of Youth Development and Sports; and Annie Chinoko-Soko, a community leader from Mtandire settlement.

The debate focused on lack of employment opportunities for youth, and challenges in accessing quality education facing both boys and girls, but girls to a larger degree. Panelists also spoke about the many challenges facing women in the city, including access to water, adequate housing, and safe and affordable transportation. Given the upcoming tripartite elections in May, women’s participation in political processes and indeed standing for elections also came up, with panelists noting that cultural conservatism discourages women from entering the political arena. The debate was broadcast live on Zodiak radio.

No WUF for informal workers?

Inclusive Cities reports: “3 informal economy workers have been denied transit visas through Spain needed to make their way to Medellin, Colombia, where they were slated to speak at Inclusive Cities’ and WIEGO events during the World Urban Forum 7 from April 5-11.

The workers, who are women street vendors, home-based workers, and waste pickers from the prominent organizations The Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) and Kagad Kach Patra Kashtkari Panchayat (KKPKP)/SWaCH, have been approved for visas from the Colombian government. However, the Spanish Embassy in India has denied them visas to travel through the airport in Spain, citing that the workers do not have sufficient “financial health.”

See more here.