MAWIMA : Malawi Women in Mining Association
When we set out to work with Malawian women in mining, our goal was to employ 5-10 women. After months of planning and eager anticipation of heading back to Malawi, we made our way to the mountainous northern region of Mzimba where we were greeted by our Malawian Operations Manager, Chikomeni Manda. Upon arrival he mentions that he had arranged a special meeting for us. We arrive to our new headquarters welcomed by not 5, not 10, but 17 women miners!
Some of the women in our collective have been in mining for over 20 years! The stones they shared with us over the course of a few days were beyond beautiful, even in their raw form.
While the stones we were able to see were in abundance, the opportunity to turn their talent of mining into an income falls short. Malawi is ranked as one of poorest countries in the world, with a GDP per capita just over $800 (for scale, neighboring South Africa is 6k while the US sits around 59k). So, these women have spent years perfecting their craft, but are presented with no market to sell in or overshadowed by males in the same market.
Hearing this disconnect was what ignited the AKAZI x MAWIMA partnership.
The partnership is simple: the women of MAWIMA to do their incredible work in mining, and Akazi operates a lapidary education program. Whats lapidary, you ask? The art of gem or stone shaping. So, with the help of resident expert, Chiko, the women will be taught lapidary skills in a safe work environment. After the gems are shaped, we purchase from each woman to incorporate into your jewelry that is handmade here in San Diego, CA.
Each purchase of Akazi jewelry helps to provide expert instruction, electricity (solar, coming soon!), running water, and soap for the facility. With new skill comes new opportunity and not just from us at Akazi. It opens up the market for our MAWIMA crew (who we can't wait to introduce to you!).