Our FAQs

We've pulled together some of the most common questions we're asked about the aims and workings of the Scotland-Malawi Partnership.

Who can join the SMP?

Membership of the Scotland Malawi Partnership is open to anyone in Scotland who has a link with, or interest in, Malawi. We have five different membership categories: organisations, individual, school, local authority and youth (14-25 years old).

It’s really easy to join the Scotland Malawi Partnership. Simply fill in a few details on our online form. Once you've registered your interest in joining the partnership you'll soon start receiving the benefits of the network, which include:

  • Free profiling of your work and links to Malawi on our website
  • Access to free networking and training events specific to working in Malawi
  • Free weekly bulletin that outlines key news from Malawi, funding opportunities and events
  • Access to our staff team with experience of working in Malawi and strong links to civil society and government in Malawi
  • Practical support and assistance with everything from linking with the local communities, to getting a UK visa for your partners to visit
  • There are a huge number of Scottish individuals and organisations with links to Malawi and it's important we do everything we can to coordinate this activity to ensure effectiveness and avoid duplication of effort. The SMP exists to coordinate, support and represent all these civic links.

Why do Scotland and Malawi have such strong links?

The links between Scotland and Malawi go back more than 156 years, they are built on mutually-beneficial community-to-community, family-to-family and people-to-people links. It’s a relationship of mutual understanding and respect.

This friendship between Scots and Malawians began in 1859, with the warm welcome extended to David Livingstone and his companions when he entered what is now Malawi for the first time.

Since then there have been highs and lows in the relationship between our two nations but, overall, there has continued to be a strong sense of friendship and solidarity, driven by community to community links.

The governments of Scotland and Malawi have become very actively involved in the relationship, with a formal Cooperation Agreement signed in 2005. These new governmental links work in active synergy with the historic and cultural civic links.

Does the SMP give out funds?

The Scotland Malawi Partnership is a network umbrella organisation. We work to coordinate, represent and support the links between Scotland and Malawi and we believe this is best done as an organisation independent of government and independent of grant awarding.

Being independent of grant-making means we can lobby funders, including the Scottish and UK Governments, to represent our members' interests and help give feedback and develop funding programmes for maximum impact in Malawi. It also means we can often give practical support and advice for members applying for funds, especially smaller organisation with less experience in grant applications.

Find out more about funding opportunities here.

What's the difference between the SMP and the Scottish Government?

The Scotland Malawi Partnership is an entirely independent charitable organisation. We are neither part of, nor directed by the Scottish Government. We are a membership led organisation governed by a Board of 16 Trustees elected from the membership. Like thousands of other organisations in Scotland, we are part funded by the Scottish Government but independent to them.

A significant proportion of the SMP’s operating costs come from core funding grants from the Scottish Government. Every third year the SMP membership determines its own priorities for the coming period, the secretariat -led by the elected Board- then develops a Strategic Plan to achieve members’ stated objectives and priorities.

The SMP then seeks funding for some, but not all of, this Strategic Plan. All lobbying and advocacy work conducted by the SMP is funded directly by membership fees and not from the Scottish Government.

All credit is due to the Scottish Government here: they recognise that much of uniqueness of the relationship with Malawi is the strength of the civic links. Accordingly, the Scottish Government greatly values having a genuinely independent organisation to support, represent and coordinate these links from within civic society. It means every pound the Scottish Government invests in its Malawi Development Programme is supported by more than £10 of inputs from Scottish civic society - churches, hospitals, schools universities, community groups, etc.

We are extremely grateful for the continued support of the Scottish Government, and we greatly value the independence the Scotland Malawi Partnership is given.

Government in synergy with people!

How can I support my colleague/friend in Malawi apply for a UK visa?

The SMP can provide advice and support for SMP members helping their partners in Malawi apply for a visitor’s visa to the UK. We can provide information based on the experience of other members who have been through the process and have good contacts in the visa application processing office in Pretoria to be able to follow up on any issues.

We can give our members an official letter of support for the visa application and advice on how to complete the process. Once the application is complete, we can then give advance warning to the visa handling centre in Pretoria to look out for the application.

The most important thing is to contact us as early as possible in the process.

If you would like further information on the visa application process please email the SMP office at info@scotland-malawipartnership.org.

How can I ship items to Malawi?

The transport of material goods to Malawi is an area we have offered support and advice for a number of years. It is a complex and at times contentious part of any development initiative. While we recognise that many projects and programme are dependent on physical hardware which cannot easily be sourced in Malawi, we always strongly encourage our members to consider the following questions before collecting goods to send to Malawi:

  1. Is it needed?
  2. Is it appropriate?
  3. Is it cost effective?
  4. Is it sustainable?
  5. Will it get there?
  6. Who ‘owns’ the donation?
  7. What is already in Malawi?
  8. Can the goods be sourced locally?
  9. How will the goods be distributed?
  10. How do you know if you’ve got it right?

If members are able to answer all of these questions and are still confident that sending goods is the best next step, please read the "Practical Guide to Sending Goods to Malawi".

If you don’t feel confident feel free to contact the SMP office at info@scotland-malawipartnership.org and discuss what alternative support you may be able to offer your partner.

What is the Malawi Scotland Partnership?

The Malawi Scotland Partnership (MaSP) is our sister organisation: the Malawi-owned and Malawi-led network which exists to support Malawi's many civil society links with Scotland.

MaSP is key to our model of a coordinated, impactful and dignified two-way civic partnership between our two nations. It is a membership umbrella body like the SMP, which any Malawian individual or organisation with a link to Scotland can join.

Find more details on MaSP or visit the MaSP website: www.malawiscotlandpartnership.org