what we do
The Cove is a social enterprise venture in Chitende, Malawi. Our mission is to utilize money from tourism revenue to support community-driven development projects. Practically speaking, we are building an eco-lodge on the beautiful lake shore of northern Malawi (think of it like a hotel but way more eco-friendly). We believe in fostering sustainable solutions through building relationships, working and learning together, and valuing our interactions with each other and the environment.
Our vision is to use nature and tourism to bring people together to solve the unique challenges our community faces. We are very intentional and deliberate about all of our interactions with people, plants and animals. We strongly believe that it takes time to learn the ins-and-outs of our landscape, but it's essential to understanding the community and environment that we've chosen to be a part of. Because there is not a one-size-fits-all solution to any development issue, our philosophy embraces three pillars of impact.
#1 - Nature
Appealing to the "eco" side of our venture, we strive to nurture and protect the natural environment in which we work. To do this, we've embraced a natural building philosophy that re-purposes natural and artificial resources that are going to waste. We are constantly surveying our local landscape to identify natural materials that don't get used. Many things are left to rot or end up getting unnecessarily burnt.
- Plastic waste and pollution is a big problem in Malawi and we are exploring creative (and beautiful) ways to collect and build with trash.
- Rice farms are abundant in our area and produce a lot of natural by-products, like rice husks and rice straw, both incredible building materials.
- There are Kapok trees galore that provide incredibly soft and useful "cotton" fiber.
- Even with Malawi's deforestation concerns, there are still so many trees that are cut or fall naturally that don't get used.
Experimenting with natural building techniques like cordwood, light-clay straw, cob, stone and eco-brick building also helps us educate the community on different ways to better utilize what nature is giving us.
The Cove is also unique in that we are allowing nature to actually shape the design of the lodge itself. By this, I mean that we are intentionally choosing to build our structures where nature has already provided us a clearing. Of course this can prove to be challenging on our timeline and budget, but it means that we will integrate ourselves into our environment in a healthy, non-destructive manner.
#2 - Community
At the foundation of our mission and vision is our community. It was my inspiration for starting this venture and will always be at the heart and soul of our work. At The Cove, we aren't interested in just helping our community, rather we want to be a genuine part of the community. To do this, we take the time to build authentic relationships. We sit on committees. We talk to people. We spend time just being there. We listen. And most importantly, we learn.
Since it will take time for the lodge to open and start generating revenue, we started a nonprofit arm, The Cove Collective, to get started immediately on some important projects the community is already addressing. Chitende Primary School enrolls close to 400 kids and operates with only two basic classrooms and one toilet/pit latrine. The community has been doing so much already with their own resources to build a new school block, but they need help finishing the project.
Additionally, the road to our village gets destroyed every rainy season and cuts off access to health care and fish markets for nearly 1,000 residents for close to 5 months of the year.
To us, being a real part of our community means we can't wait until the business is profitable to get involved in these projects. Being on the road and school improvement committees means that we get the opportunity to start building relationships and learning what makes our community thrive.
#3 - Tourism
Without this pillar, our financial model would not succeed. But our motivation to inspire our guests goes far beyond just financial gains. Our goal is for people to come and feel inspired by the beauty around them. Not just with nature, though that is certainly the drawing factor, but by experiencing how nature and people can work together to enjoy a peaceful and beautiful harmony.
By being intentional and deliberate in everything we do, we will create a space that is not just a lodge, but truly a piece of art. It will be a space for people from all walks of life to come and connect, be it with nature, art, culture or simply to reconnect with themselves. It is our hope that our impact on our travelers will then trickle into the world in its own way, further acting as a spark for positive social change.
why we do it
People need nature and sometimes, nature needs people in return. That is where we come into play. In Malawi, tourism is on the rise and why wouldn't it be? It has breathtaking landscapes and the most friendly, hospitable residents in the world. But the country faces its own set of problems, especially where development is concerned. With pressing social and environmental concerns like deforestation, drought, and waste management problems (just to name a few), many Malawians don't get to thrive in their own homes. And in turn, the environment doesn't get to thrive either. Throw in the pressing concerns that are happening all over the world and the answer becomes obvious. Let us start trying to make small scale differences that will eventually, over time and generations, improve the quality of life for all of earths residents. At the Cove, we are dedicated to helping our community feel connected to and content in their home.
how we do it
As a social enterprise, we have a "triple bottom line." This means our mission equally weighs environmental impact, social impact and financial gains. We are unlike traditional nonprofits in that our goal is to eventually be able to support community projects through utilizing business revenue. This allows us to have a sustainable income stream, without relying on fundraising, while also giving us the flexibility to continue to grow with our community. As their needs evolve over time, The Cove will continue to be there, working together with the community. Our target impact areas have room to be fluid and follow the ever-changing landscape of Chitende.
we need your help
There are no borders when it comes to community. We all need support from our own networks from time to time. I am asking you to be a part of our Cove community today. In return for your generosity and support, you'll get the opportunity to feel the spirit of Malawi through our thoughtfully crafted rewards. The impact of your contribution will further be felt by helping us support our local artisans, who also give back to their communities! Check out our socially and environmentally conscious rewards on the right hand side of this page.
Our goal is to raise $25,000, which will allow us to get the lodge running (hopefully by early 2021) and finish the construction of one school block by the end of August 2020.
If we are able to meet our initial goal, we will use additional income to invest into our road construction project and into the purchase of a reliable vehicle.
who we are
People often ask me, in surprise, if I am doing this alone. But the truth is, I have never been alone. From the beginning, my friends and family have supported my "brand of crazy." Early into the exploration phase, when I was looking for land, I reconnected with my now right-hand-man, Zinyengo. Together, Zinyengo and I have been forging forward, learning together and building a shared dream. Luckily, we have been able to add some valuable players to our team and are now a thriving team of four, with Obvious and Tyler joining us in August 2019.
Your support means the world to me! For those of you who have taken the time to visit this page, to invest in my dream, or to give me encouraging words and support along the way - THANK YOU! I hope you continue following our journey! Don't forget to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, or Youtube!