The path to a better life

DEICHMANN Foundation creates secure livelihoods for extremely poor families in Malawi



120 extremely poor households in rural Malawi create a stable livelihood by developing entrepreneurial activities, while improving their health and education situation.


People who are affected by severe poverty and take care of their families alone are supported by providing for their basic needs. By building micro-businesses, they achieve a stable income and break the cycle of poverty. They get to eat better, protect themselves from diseases and enable their children to attend school. Over 500 people are given the chance to live a better life. Access to local savings groups also promotes resilience to crises and strengthens social cohesion.

Why help is needed

Poor families break the poverty cycle primarily only with support.
Half of the approximately 20.4 million inhabitants of Malawi lives below the national poverty line. About 3.8 million of them also struggle with extreme poverty (see chart). These people have to survive on less than 2 euros a day. Most Malawians rely on the produce from their own arable plots or small livestock herds for food. However, they often do not produce enough to ensure a livelihood for themselves and their families. A sharp increase in droughts, cyclones and floods has additionally endangered the livelihoods of smallholder households.

How the Foundation helps

Creating opportunities and prospects for a better life

“The road to a better life” project specifically supports women and young people to get out of extreme poverty who are the main breadwinners for themselves and their families. They are among the poorest members of their communities, unable to farm or provide for themselves. Improvised housing offers little protection and there is often a lack of clean drinking water and sanitation. Children from such families usually attend school irregularly. The project gives families in the rural areas of the Blantyre district the opportunity to build a stable livelihood.

The DEICHMANN Foundation makes this pioneering pilot project in Malawi possible. For the first time, 530 people from 120 households will have the chance to create a secure source of income by building small businesses. While they are doing this, they are supported for two years. Through accompanying training and coaching, participants improve their entrepreneurial and social skills in the areas of future planning, small business, saving and investing and health and hygiene. In the first six months, the basic needs of the families are supported until the new ventures launched are able to generate sufficient income.

Program participant Cecilia lovingly tends her goats, which she was given as a start-up herd.

Pushing on despite difficulties

In April 2022, the first families started building their small businesses until a destructive cyclone hit the project region in March 2023. The huts of many households were severely damaged. Hard earned capital was lost. Thanks to the project, they were able to rebuild their huts and move on to taking the next development steps.

The impact of aid.

Sustainable development through extensive training


Knowledge acquired through training sessions enables participating family caregivers to develop practical solutions and plans for a better future. Individual coaching helps them to master challenges in everyday life.


Families develop plans for building their sources of income helped by experienced mentors. So that they can successfully implement their plan, they receive basic equipment for two business activities, for example, tools for craftwork and seeds for growing crops or a small livestock herd for breeding.


Participating families want to make the most of the opportunity offered to them and they show great determination and strong drive and perseverance. Their situation is improving. They earn a regular income, protect themselves from illness and enable their children to attend school. To help families cope with fluctuating income and spending, local savings and loan groups have been established, from which all households in the project region benefit.

Additional information

Life in Malawi is marked by poverty and hunger.

Half the population lives below the poverty line. According to the World Bank, 18% of the population in the southeast African country is malnourished. Almost 40% of infants suffer from stunted growth due to chronic malnutrition. 37% of households need at least 30 minutes to fetch drinking water.

Our project is located in Machinjiri, near Blantyre in the south of the country. Many utterly poor households are located here. Social and cultural participation is often not possible for such families. In their local communities, they are also discriminated against and marginalised.

Voices from the region

The first steps towards a better life have been taken

Project participant Cecilia wants to beat hunger and cold

At night, Cecilia’s family snuggled up to each other at temperatures around 13°C on a sagging foam mat sitting on the clay floor. It was difficult to face the cold, especially since the family could usually only afford one meal a day.

With her monthly subsidy, Cecilia can now buy enough food, buy clothes for her children and save something for the future. A front door now protects her family from the cold. Cecilia’s business is also doing well. She makes bricks and breeds goats.


“We often ate in the evening so that we didn’t have to go to bed hungry”.


23 years old, is the main breadwinner for his family of seven.

Lesson takes care of his family

Lesson and his wife were dependent on seasonal farming relief work, which was barely enough to live on. The project gave him and his family the chance to open a kiosk. With this venture, they have the best chance to earn a secure income. The family was also able to buy a goat and five chickens. They invested their first savings with their savings and credit group. Lesson is sure that his family is on the road to a better future.

Project partner

Opportunity International – Entrepreneurial Opportunities for Escaping Poverty

The partner for this project is the Opportunity International Deutschland (OID) Foundation.

Since 1996, it has been providing self-help support in global South countries. The foundation is convinced that with the right knowledge and tools, people can break free from the cycle of poverty under their own steam. The sustainable support of OID focuses on the entrepreneurial and personal development of people by offering education and training, creating livelihoods and improving their health situation.


DEICHMANN foundation
Deichmannweg 9
Germany 45359 Essen

Phone: +49 201 8676-15222

Account for donations

Deutsche Bank Essen
IBAN DE68 3607 0050 0301 1590 01


Through our work, we continuously contribute to achieving the sustainability goals of the globally coordinated 2030 Agenda.

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