Our Malawi Partnership
People co-operating in Malawi
Growth through co-operative trade

We’ve launched an innovative Co-operative International Trading Development Fund to help move global communities out of poverty. It will focus on countries where we can make the greatest difference.

Our Malawi Partnership launched on the 2nd July 2022 as we celebrated the 100th International Day of Co-operatives. In our stores, we’re selling a range of products linked to Malawi in support of producers and farmers. A proportion from the sale of these products will support the initiative and strengthen trading capacity in Malawi.

Our Malawi Partnership continues to make a difference.

Since July 2023 we’ve...
coffee heart

Increased coffee production from 300,000 Kgs to 500,000 Kgs.


Increased organic fertiliser use across local farmers.


Supported 30 Co-op Union members with over 1000 macadamia seedlings.

...and much more!

Going nuts about Fairtrade!

Working in partnership with our friends at Nutcellars, we’re now able to announce the world’s first Fairtrade certified macadamia nut product!

Learn More

Supporting women Farmers

The initiative also supported six woman farmers in growing, sustaining and selling their crops.

Read more about their stories

About Malawi


Malawi is a country in south-eastern Africa with a population of just under 20 million.

rising sun

‘Malawi’ means ‘fire flames’. The country takes its name from the reflection of the rising sun on the waters of the vast Lake Malawi.


Agriculture is central to the economy with 90% of the population living in rural areas.


Malawi was the first country in Africa to grow tea on a commercial scale.

Malawi in a nutshell...

  • Malawi is bordered by Tanzania to the north, Lake Malawi to the east, Mozambique to the east and south, and Zambia to the west.
  • It is one of the world’s poorest countries with almost 70% of the population living below the national poverty line.
  • Most farmers are small-holders, dependent on subsistence farming to make a living and producing crops such as maize, beans, rice, cassava, coffee, tobacco and ground nuts.
  • Malawi is the 6th largest producer of macadamia nuts in the world.
  • Malawi crops, being rain fed, are vulnerable to changing weather patterns, especially drought.
  • The Malawian informal economy has grown with 97% of people, mostly women, employed in agriculture.
  • Major challenges to producers and farmers include poor working conditions and safety, lack of social protection and representation, low incomes and climate change.
Open quote Close quote

On a visit to Malawi, I experienced first-hand both the poverty and spirit of the people, and therefore the opportunity that exists by strengthening their trading capability. Through the true spirit of co-operation, we can make a difference.

Close quote

Debbie Robinson

CEO Central England Co-operative


In addition to a proportion of all product sales from the items on Our Malawi Partnership display unit, we’ll also invest a percentage from every Co-op Fairtrade purchase made towards this initiative. We are also providing additional funding to The One Foundation as a result of selling One Water. Over the duration of the first 5 years we aim to invest a combined £600K from Central England alone.
This initiative is all about support through trading, so buy Co-op Fairtrade products and also choose Our Malawi Partnership products in store to make a difference.
We’ve chosen Malawi to be our pilot project, as it’s one the world’s poorest countries with some extremely challenging conditions - but has incredible co-operative and trading potential.
Our focus is firmly on Malawi for the next 5 years and we’ll use what we’ve learned and experienced over that time to decide how or where to progress next.
You can purchase all of the products in support of Malawi at any of our Central Co-op stores. Just look out for the Our Malawi Partnership logo, choose from our extensive range of Co-op Fairtrade products or ask one of our colleagues.
We have committed to supporting Malawi for an initial 5 years, followed by a review period where we’ll assess the progress we’ve made and take it from there.
Our ambition is to develop a deeper understanding of the impact of co-operative and fair trade over aid to deliver sustainability for smallholder farmers that takes Malawian communities out of abject poverty. All supported by our members and customers.
Absolutely, we’re still committed to Fairtrade, Fare Share, Too Good To Go and our Community Dividend fund will continue to support our communities in need.
We’re inviting other U.K. co-op societies to engage and support this new initiative so we can do more good co-operatively. Express your interest by dropping us a line at Malawi.partnership@centralengland.coop
It’s simple. For every £1 you spend on Co-op Fairtrade products, we will put a proportion aside for the fund. All of the products in the Our Malawi Partnership range will also contribute to the fund when you buy them.
We are very proud of our leadership in Fairtrade for over 25 years. Whilst we remain as committed as ever, we are building on our successes with new opportunities, specifically for co-op trading development in Malawi. So whilst obviously linked, our support through this partnership is different but complementary to our ongoing Fairtrade support.
Yes. Funds will be administered independently by The Co-op College and Malawi Federation of Co-operatives (MAFECO)) who are working together on the development, implementation and monitoring of workplans in Malawi. The ongoing monitoring and evaluation will help inform the future direction of our work. Our partners at Co-op College have worked with Malawi for many years and actually established MAFECO as the country's first national apex body for co-operatives. Separately, The One Foundation will be receiving funding to invest as a standalone charity in Malawian co-op communities.
We will keep you updated via our website through reports received from Malawi.
We believe that the co-ops themselves are the only people in a position to know what is best for them. Together with MAFECO, The Co-op College have run workshops in Malawi to hear directly from the cop-ops themselves what priorities and opportunities are most important. As a result workplans have been drafted to address these.