The Big Issue, a street paper project, was launched in Malawi on January 24, 2009. This project is being implemented by Culture Awakening Society (CAS) in partnership with the International Network of Street Papers (INSP) in Scotland with funding from the Scottish government and Ubuntu Trading Company in the United Kingdom.
This project is affiliated to the Big Issue, London. It has the same objective of working as a social enterprise to fight poverty and homelessness by providing business and creative solutions through selling of The Big Issue magazine.
The Big Issue is just one of the street papers in the world giving economic power to less privileged citizens but all street papers come under one network of INSP.
INSP has just finished conducting a comprehensive training programme for Big Issue Malawi which was delivered by Chief Executive Officer of Big Issue Australia Steven Persson from October 30 to November 4, 2009.
On October 15, 2009, one of the founders of Ubuntu Trading Company, Philippe Sibaud, visited the project and was impressed with efforts being made to transform lives of some needy people in Malawi .
Besides, on October 26, 2009, the Scottish International Officer at Glasgow City Council Gillian Walsh and Strathclyde University Professor Brian Kelly went to Malawi to visit the project.
The Malawian street paper project has so far published four editions of The Big Issue magazine and the next issue will hit the streets this Thursday, November 12, 2009.
Working with over 300 vendors in Malawi , most of them women, Big Issue Malawi is fast transforming the lives of jobless and marginalized Malawians in the cities of Blantyre , Lilongwe , Mzuzu and Zomba. The project is also working in other districts like Kasungu, Ntcheu, Salima, Mulanje, Thyolo and Chiladzulu.
The top most selling vendor Willy Bukhu has managed to sell 126 copies of the fourth edition of The Big Issue magazine, thereby earning MK25,200 profit from sales of one issue. This may look like peanuts to other people, but for less privileged vendors in Malawi, continuous sale of this magazine will ultimately go a long way in improving their standard of living.
Francis Edgar Awaritefe