Our history

We are proud of the 160+ year old relationship Scotland has with Malawi: this is a relationship built on mutually beneficial community-to-community, family-to-family and people-to-people links. It is a relationship underpinned by mutual understanding and respect. We believe this is a new and exciting model of international cooperation and a powerful force for change.

The relationship 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.

The challenge posed by the United Nations Millennium Development Goals was taken up in Scotland in the late 1990s by David Livingstone's alma mater the University of Strathclyde when, in partnership with Bell College (local to Livingstone’s birthplace at Blantyre), they launched their Malawi Millennium Project.

The Scotland Malawi Partnership was officially launched in April 2004 with the support of the Lord Provosts of Edinburgh and Glasgow.

In 2005, the G8 met at Gleneagles, with the Make Poverty History campaign drawing public attention to the issue of international development. At the same time the Scottish Government published Scotland’s first international development strategy, with a particular focus on the relationship between Scotland and Malawi.

That November the Scotland Malawi Partnership, funded by the Scottish Government, hosted a major conference at the Scottish Parliament, 'Malawi After Gleneagles', which brought together key Scots and Malawians from across Government, Parliament and civic society. The conference discussed the historic bilateral relationship and mapped out future cooperation together.

On the 3rd November 2005 the historic Co-operation Agreement between the governments of Scotland and Malawi was signed and during 2005 the Partnership registered as a Scottish Charity (SCO37048) and as a Company Limited by Guarantee (SC294378).

While officially constituted at the same time as the SMP in 2005, our sister network, the Malawi Scotland Partnership (MaSP), established a secretariat in 2012 and since then the SMP and MaSP have been working closely together in friendship and partnership.

In September 2018 the SMP and MaSP together co-hosted a High Level Conference in Malawi, which articulated Malawi’s vision for the next chapter in the bilateral friendship, this was the 'return fixture' to the 2005 ‘Malawi After Gleneagles’ conference in the Scottish Parliament.

The Covid-19 pandemic has precipitated a further new epoch in the bilateral relationship, with unprecedented levels of cooperation and joint-working as we together fought the virus in both our nations, new digital ways of working allowing both Scots and Malawians to take part in all meetings and events, and an energising commitment to Building Back Better in new and exciting ways.

In March 2021 the partnership migrated to become a SCIO (SC050781).

Over the last decade and a half, the Partnership has grown at an astonishing rate as the national umbrella organisation supporting Scotland's links with Malawi. It has been responsive to the interests, needs and priorities of its expanding membership, and it has inspired new generations of Scots to develop friendships with Malawi.

Today 45% of Scots personally know someone with a connection to Malawi. This is now a national effort: one of the world's strongest bilateral civic links.

Learn more about the history of Scotland-Malawi links in Rev Prof Kenneth Ross' booklet 'Friendship with a Purpose".