I am an agricultural economist by profession. My first degree was in Agribusiness Management, obtained – with distinction – from Bunda College of Agriculture. I thus have an understanding of how economics relates to agricultural processes.

Upon graduation from the University of Malawi in May 2006, I spent a whole year looking for a job. Yes, one full year! During that time, I survived on part-time jobs, the majority of which involved collecting data for various individuals and institutions. I also had the chance to get involved in consultancy work, together with my old friend Felix Jumbe, owner of Peacock Enterprises. We did consultancy work for various organizations, key among them being the Clinton Hunter Development Initiative where we helped them organize smallholder farmers from Neno District into a business association. I spent the final two months of this one year ‘unemployment/transition period’ volunteering for a start-up NGO – the Trustees of Agricultural Promotion Program (TAPP) in Lilongwe where I worked as a Programs Coordinator. That gave me the opportunity to develop further my skills in proposal development and negotiation.

In May 2007, exactly one year after I left college, I got my first job as an Association Coordinator for the Central Region Milk Producers’ Association (CREMPA). This was part of a grant from Land O’ Lakes Malawi to the Association. As a Coordinator, I was overall responsible for directing all the activities of the association – including fundraising for and managing projects under the association. I  liked the job very much as it was very relevant to my training so that I was able to apply directly the tools that I had acquired in college.

I left CREMPA in July 2007 to pick up a new job as a Research Supervisor for the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Malawi. I was involved in researching the impacts IITA’s research activities in Malawi. One of the studies that I supervised was on the analysis of technological impacts and priorities for research targeting in Malawi. This work accorded me the opportunity to work with a multidisciplinary team of scientists from different research centers in Malawi (e.g. the National Agricultural Research System, other CGIAR centers, and various Non Governmental Organizations). Among other outputs of this work was a technical report which was submitted to USAID, one of IITA’s key funding agencies. Prior to joining IITA Malawi, I had the privilege of participating in two separate data collection cycles for CIFOR’s Poverty Environment Network (PEN) global data set (which includes 7,000+ households in 25+ countries) as a Research Supervisor. The project is coordinated in Malawi by the Center for Agricultural Research and Development based at the University of Malawi’s Bunda College. The main objective of the PEN project is to identify the linkages between common-pool resources (such as forests, pastures and water resources) and the well-being of rural communities. I had the privilege of supervising a team of 6 enumerators during each of the two cycles.

As I indicated at the outset, I graduated from the MS program in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University in 2010. During my B.S. training and as a graduate student in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University, I acquired core knowledge and skills that are central to the analysis of economic and environmental data. Apart from coursework and work on my MS thesis, I was also involved in research on the role of environmental income in risk management, asset accumulation and poverty reduction in Malawi as part of my graduate research assistantship (supported by the AMA BASIS CRSP Project). My involvement in the AMA BASIS CRSP Project was a direct continuation of the previous work that I did with CARD as CIFOR is one of the project partners.

I now work as a Private Sector Advisor for USAID in Malawi. Overall, I am responsible for designing and managing USAID/Malawi’s programs and/or projects that are aimed at developing a functional private sector.

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