Courageous Conversations with

Malaika Mfula

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Welcome to Episode 64 of our podcast, Courageous Conversations, hosted by Leanne Pilkington.

In this episode, our guest is Malaika Mfula, Program Manager at The Exchange Dubbo. Malaika talks about her role at The Exchange and how it was established, the ‘Seats for the Brave’ initiative came about in response to the drought in Dubbo, her internship in Zambia, overcoming cultural differences and norms, and what’s next for her career and life.

Our podcast series will be on a temporary break and will resume in early 2021. Thank you so much to all of our listeners! We’ll see you next year!

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00:40 – About The Exchange and Malaika’s role here
01:50 – Purchasing the derelict building and the risks involved in renovating it to create the coworking space for start ups
03:00 – About the ‘Seats for the Brave’ initiative, and the Dubbo drought
05:00 – The lack of confidence that Malaika has observed in business owners and how she helps her community improve on it at The Exchange through mentoring and networking
06:30 – Georgie’s business at The Exchange, The Kid Crop (aiming to resolve the disconnect between city kids and the origins of their food and fibre). She sells grain that teachers and families can purchase to grow with their kids
09:00 – The sponsorship from Seats for the Brave is not just a sponsorship; it’s the initiative’s way of encouraging the business owner and giving them the confidence to succeed: “You’ve got this!”
10:00 –
10:10 – Malaika’s internship overseas in Africa for 9 months; helping women sales co-op’s break into new markets (budgeting, hiring, manufacturing processed, etc)
11:00 – What a day in Zambia was like for Malaika during the internship
12:35 – Textile/artisan start-up businesses were the most popular in Zambia
13:00 – How Malaika helped these businesses find their markets
14:00 – Introducing business owners to apps and connections via their phones and online
15:00 – The everyday challenges and influences involved with getting things done for the businesses, particularly around cultural norms (e.g. domestic abuse)
16:25 – How Malaika personally dealt with cultural issues in Zambia. When you have wins, you take those wins
17:00 – Using the advice of Desmond Tutu: ‘There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in.’
18:00 – Tackling change in Zambia; politicians are predominantly male and there is a lot of self-interest at play. But NGOs are advocating where they can.
19:00 – On going back to Zambia and what’s next for Malaika