Staying with a Malawian Consultant

Kylie’s post – disappeared randomly (I think my iPhone ate it)

(Below: Andrew’s post)

Today has been incredible in so many ways… But it’s also been a very tiring day.

Kylie and I woke up early to finish packing our things in preparation for the next leg of the adventure, Blantyre. We also wanted to make sure we left our place clean and habitable for George and Flossey in case they wanted to have tenants in after us. When we finished cleaning everything we said our goodbyes to everyone which was bitter-sweet, and then set out with mike to the bus station.

Since mike had been held up in traffic we were 30 minutes later than what we’d originally planned on… That said we had planned on getting to the bus at 8 when the ‘departure time’ was 7:00am. I guess Malawi has had an effect on us after all!

Nonetheless we made it to the bus station with a couple minutes to spare as we boarded our bus to Blantyre. There was one catch… We would have to stand for the ride since all the seats were filled. Even though they promised we would have seats after 3 hours, I was skeptical if that would actually be the case. 

Turns out my skepticism was well founded. 4 hours into the journey Kylie and I were still standing and had to resort to a variety of standing positions to keep our legs fresh for the journey. 

Despite the tough ‘seating’ arrangements, it was nice to have a couple Malawian locals on the bus offer us seats. We kindly refused as that would mean they would be standing and that wouldn’t be fair to them. 

One individual who offered me his seat is a student at the university of Blantyre studying civil engineering (not agriculture or farming production?!). I asked him what the major obstacle to developing Malawi as a whole was and he immediately replied government. It seems the government of Malawi doesn’t find the development projects that would truly elevate the country. It was a very insightful conversation.

With Blantyre being the business and technology hub of Malawi, 

when we arrived I expected to see tall buildings and a bustling city. What we were greeted with was a slightly more modern Lilongwe with better roads and more orderly streets. The people however were extremely diverse. Rather than local Malawians, we saw an array of shops filled with Indian, Muslim, and other people. It seems most of the business owners are not local.

Kylie and I followed my map to Chris Shake’s home, a beautiful place on the hillsides of Blantyre. His home is covered in trees that Chris works hard to maintain. We sat down with him outside his home and had a long discussion about nearly everything and I came to see… Chris is quite an amazing individual.

He works as an innovation consultant in Blantyre, accepting various projects and business as it comes. He’s been doing that for about 20 years thus far and his experiences have taken him to Kenya, Mozambique, Malawi, Vietnam, Germany, etc. 

Unfortunately if I were to write everything we talked about id take up weeks worth of posts so, here are some bullets:

• Government corruption in Malawi and Chris’s prediction there will be a civil outbreak in the year (government sold the maize stores which means there will be a good shortage)

• Consulting in Malawi. Chris’s next project is revolutionizing the postal system for Malawi.

• Consulting in Malawi, Chris is a bio-chemistry and IT expert and his projects have covered a wide array of telecoms issues.

• Majority of Malawi businesses that are successful are operated by Indians or foreigners.

• Bio-fuel and its feasibility for transforming Africa (example: water hyaline is an invading weed in local water systems, but if dried, it can be turned into usable methane, and fertilizer).

• The importance of evaluating the feasibility of your projects (example: A plant he consulted a group to produce, as a biofuel, was much less profitable, but as a skincare oil was much more profitable 

• China’s foreign investment in Africa and the social-political ramifications.

The list goes on and it was a fascinating discussion. 

We also found two other couch surfers here from the UK who are hiking to start a business in Malawi. They both are engineers and they hope to take a new walker they’ve developed and sell it in developing nations. We also had a long evening dinner discussion with Chris and the two of them about healthcare systems in the U.S. and UK and the rapid change of lifestyle occurring around the world.

Phew, a lot of writing there but I wanted to make sure I recorded some of these incredible things I’ve learned! And it’s only been day 1 of our journey south!


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