Last year, I created a  list of scholarships for Malawi and neighboring countries. These scholarships mainly cater for study abroad or in other countries in Africa. But recently, I stumbled on the Soko Fund, which is aimed at helping female students at a Malawian University to obtain a degree and contribute to the development of the country.

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The Soko Fund was set up by Trust deed in 2003 and is a registered charity. The idea arose from the experience of two of the current Trustees, who spent the year 1999 teaching at Bandawe School for Girls in Malawi.

The fund was named in honour of Mr Yesaya Soko, a Malawian science teacher formerly at Bandawe, whose astonishing resilience and determination in finding the means to pay for his own university education provides a fine example of the sort of person the fund is designed to help. His dedication to improving his teaching skills and working withinMalawi inspired a fund to support Malawians who want to contribute to the development of their country by acquiring the higher skills a university degree can provide.

Soko Scholarships are confined to those who are studying or have been accepted for study at a University or other institution of higher education in Malawi. These scholarships are restricted to women students born in Malawi undertaking a course of higher education at a college or university there. Preference is given to students from relatively poor backgrounds. Application guidelines are available for interested students.

Depending upon income, the Fund expects to support between 8 and 12 Soko Scholarships every academic year. As you can see, the number of beneficiaries is very small compared to the number of needy students. Therefore, the general public is encouraged to support this noble cause in various ways.

The Soko Fund also administers a number of special awards that have been established in honour or commemoration of individuals by friends and family members. These awards include the following: the Alexander Scholarship, the Jane Ballantyne Award, the Cordiner Scholarship and the Nicholson Scholarship.