This organization was established in 2002 as a Community Based Organisation called The Centre For Disadvantaged Girls, and later registered as an NGO with it's current name: Malkia Foundation. ‘Malkia’ means ‘Queen’ in Swahili, we use this name because we believe that every female is a queen and has the right to be treated as such.
Based out of Vihiga County in Western Kenya, Malkia was created to help make the lives of disadvantaged girls and women in the community better by empowering them with education and skills for enterprise development. Our programs are anchored on five pillars: education and training, poverty eradication, women’s health, women empowerment, and social enterprise development. We believe that anyone can improve their lot in life, given the chance and opportunity.
Phionah’s personal story is inextricably tied to the mission, vision and work of Malkia Foundation. After having missed out on her first chance to complete secondary school, Phionah married at the age of seventeen and quickly gave birth to her first child Ashley, and soon after her son was born. Her and her young husband Arthur struggled to look after their growing family and lived in dire poverty for years. Phionah would feed her infant daughter stones and water just to make her feel full, and her first born son ended up dying of malnutrition and hunger.
There came a point when Phionah decided that she was going to do anything she could to change the fortunes of her family, and after struggling and failing to run an onion business in the market, she, with the support of her husband, decided to complete high school. She used his books from the high school courses he was doing to study when he came home, sat her exams, then passed. Thanks to her results, she was able to get an unpaid job at a printer’s in Nairobi, was able to learn the trade, and ended up setting up her own printing company, which she runs to this day, and which she has thus far used to fund her family as well as the work of Malkia.
Walking down the street one day, Phionah saw two girls crying. She asked them what was wrong, and they said that they didn’t have the 25 shillings that were needed to register for their exams. Knowing the transformational power that education had had in her own life, she gave them the 100 shillings that she had in her pocket for food and they were able to go and sit their exams. They came back to her afterwards to thank her. One of these girls is now a lawyer and the other is a doctor. This experience is what initiated the idea of setting up the Malkia Foundation, and Phionah began using money that she earned from the printing to buy essential products to distribute to girls in her community and has now turned it into a more sustainable model of girls' empowerment programs.
After overhearing many stories of domestic abuse from a group of women who hang out at the borehole at Phionah’s house and seeing their wounds and bruises, she asked them about it. They said that it often happened when they would ask their husbands for money for food for the family. She suggested that, with her help, they begin to make jewelry during the time that they were waiting at the borehole - they would often come there and stay longer than needed to get time away from home. So, she brought beads for them to begin making jewelry and then helped them to sell it when she could. This income helped to increase the wellbeing of the women, who no-longer had to ask their husbands for money, this developed into our microfinance program and soon our vocational training program which both allow the building of financial independence and balancing the power dynamics. This was the beginning of Malkia’s women’s empowerment work.