CGC donates £3,000 to help Malawian women set up micro-businesses

CGC donates £3,000 to help Malawian women set up micro-businesses

Elaine, Andy, Stuart and Katherine.

Renfrewshire construction company CGC has made a huge cash donation that will help to light up the lives of impoverished African villagers.

CGC, which is based in Linwood, handed over a cheque for £3,000 that will be used by intrepid charity volunteer Elaine Scott to help women in Malawi set up micro-businesses, using sewing machines powered by solar panels to make and repair clothes.

Elaine and her fellow charity volunteer Katherine Jones popped into the CGC headquarters to pick up the “fantastic” donation from finance manager Stuart Fraser and operations manager Andy Watson.

Elaine said: “We are so grateful to the people at CGC. This will make such a difference to the people of Malawi, some of whom have so little it isn’t true – the gift of £3,000 is fantastic.”

Stuart Fraser added: “We are only too happy to help out, having been involved with Elaine and her friends with Malawi projects in the past, and, as a company, we are always keen to show our commitment to those less fortunate in society, wherever they are.”

Elaine, who works in the Paisley area, and Katherine, a foster carer, are both from Dalry, Ayrshire, and have a longstanding commitment to helping underprivileged people living in rural communities in Malawi. Back in 2015, Elaine was involved in a team visit to the country to build a school block, toilets, a house and a kitchen in conjunction with charity Mary’s Meals.

In 2017, she returned to help build a nursery, medical centre and a play area for local children and in 2019 she returned again to build more classrooms. It was during the 2017 visit that she had a “lightbulb moment” as she was sewing up some squares to make bean bags for some children.

She explained: “Before I knew it, I had a queue of kids looking for their clothes to be repaired. At the time, I only had a needle and thread but I mended what I could. This gave me the idea to return myself in 2018 to teach sewing and set up small businesses for the ladies in the village we were working in.

“I sent over sewing machines in barrels, put in solar power infrastructure, took all of the materials they would need to get started and set up a community fund they could access to continue buying materials.

“Along with a few friends, we taught 12 women to make new clothes and repair the ones they already had.”

She was due to go back to repeat this in another village in 2020 but the COVID outbreak paralysed the world and all her plans were brought to a halt. However, now that the pandemic has lifted, Elaine has decided to fly back to Malawi with a mission to assist 10 more women who have been identified as being ideal candidates for her solar-powered sewing inspiration.

They are all extremely poor and have no means of income, and most are single with children. Being able to sew means they would mean they would be able to support themselves and their children.

CGC’s donation will help pay for the all-important solar panels to power the sewing machines, because mains electricity is so unreliable locally.

Elaine – who pays for her own flights and accommodation – added: “I make tablet and sell it for £1 a bag and while this is a steady source of funding, it is not raising lots and it takes time, so CGC’s assistance is invaluable.”

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