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OUR STORY

 C H A P T E R  1 : ‘BIT OF BACKGROUND.

Hi there, My name is Maddy, nice to meet you! I’m the founder of a new social business called YEWO. How I arrived at this point, is another story… For those of you interested, here’s the scoop:

First things first. My brother Cameron and I have been incredibly lucky in life. We have two unconventional & supportive parents who instilled our curiosity for the world from a young age. They took us traveling every opportunity possible (including a one-year road trip across Australia and New Zealand in an old Morris minor junker). Needless to say, traveling opened our eyes. Not only to other cultures, but we learned how to respect different ways of thinking and the ability to adapt.

 C H A P T E R  2 : THE GREAT MIGRATION.

After (finally) completing a degree in International Development, and years of international travel & volunteer work in West Africa under my belt, it was time for the “next step.” I remember sitting around my parent's kitchen table in 2012, daydreaming about ways to get back to Africa… It was my dad who first mentioned Malawi (He’s British. His favorite ‘football’ player at the time was from Malawi.) So we sprawled out a world map and researched the small land-locked country. Next, we did what any normal family would do, we ‘googled’ lodges for sale in Malawi and found one small campsite for sale in the remote mountains of Northern Malawi (sound familiar) called the Mushroom Farm. I talked to Cameron (who was a green builder at the time) about the possibility. And in 2013, with the support of our parents, we left our base in Asheville, NC, and headed out to Malawi.

C H A P T E R 3 : THE LEARNING CURVE.

Looking back, we were completely clueless about running a business, let alone running a social enterprise in one of the world’s poorest countries. But somehow, we did it. Starting with just four members of staff, the Mushroom Farm now has thirty-two amazing employees. We give out microloans, we know our neighbors, we're invited to village meetings with local chiefs. We are involved. And we are still amazed by the resiliency and kindness that we've experienced in Manchewe Village. What I learned while living in Malawi and operating this social business has been invaluable. Yes, Malawi is poor. Yes, there is a horrendous amount of suffering (I'm sure even beyond what I see day-to-day). Yet I have never heard so much laughter, seen so many smiles, and have so much hope in my heart. It is addicting. I wanted to use this social business model to do even more.

 C H A P T E R 4 : THE BIRTH OF YEWO.

I met a dude called Kyle in Malawi in 2015 while he was backpacking around Africa, we clicked instantly and have been stuck with each other ever since. While living in Malawi, we were approached by locals every day. Not asking for handouts, but asking for a job. Together, we wanted to create a social enterprise, beyond Mushroom Farm, to provide sustainable salaries and highlight the talent found in Malawi.  And with that YEWO was born. Using past success + failures of the Mushroom Farm, and my background in design, we established YEWO in 2017 to work with / train local unskilled men, women, and existing artisans in our freshly constructed YEWO workshop.

C  H A P T E R  6 : LOOKING FORWARD

The conclusion of this story? A sustainable business-- in all senses of the word. YEWO is a co-operative of amazing leaders who just needed a leg up, not a hand-out, in rural Malawi. Every single YEWO item is handcrafted by someone who now does not have to worry about where their next meal comes from, or how they will pay for their children’s school fees. Because they now have a dignified career, and with your consumer support, a sustainable future. We are still finding our feet, and have made so many mistakes along the way, but hey if I've learned anything from Malawi, its that everything always works out. Thank you for being part of our story. Here's to a bright future ahead. Yewo chomani (thank you very much).

 

Love, Maddy + the whole YEWO gang x