MIA ethical chocolate brand launches scheme for Madagascan girls’ education

British-founded ethical chocolate brand MIA, short for Made In Africa, has launched the Girls’ Education Fund under its 1 for Change impact programme to support vulnerable African students so they can achieve their potential.

Sponsored students, identified and monitored in partnership with UK charity Money for Madagascar, receive a monthly stipend to fund school fees, a healthy school lunch and healthcare.

Irenée, Director of Money for Madagascar, explains the situation in Madagascar: “Decades of under-investment, exacerbated by a political coup in 2009 caused the national education budget to fall from US$82 million in 2008 to just $14.9 million in 2012, and the situation has not improved much in the meantime. Government inability to pay teacher salaries has led to the imposition of school fees. As a result, school enrolment has significantly decreased, falling as low as 55 percent in some areas. Of every 100 children who start primary school only 33 make it to secondary school.”

Girls are the most impacted by the education crisis in Madagascar because they are the first to be removed from school to assist with domestic chores and support family income. The Girls’ Education Fund aims to combat this negative trend and to demonstrate the value of girls’ education. MIA Co-founder Sarah comments on the new initiative: “MIA works with African communities to craft delicious value-added chocolate that can bring positive benefit to communities beyond the supply chain. In the process of delivering on the brand promises, we want to make the human connection between consumers and producer communities. Knowing how valuable education has been in my life, both professionally and personally, I am really excited to see MIA support the academic journeys of young women in Africa!”

The first two recipients are secondary students in Antananarivo, the highlands capital of Madagascar. Nadine (below) and Viviane, the beneficiaries, are both in their last year of secondary school when they take the critical exams that determine if they can pursue university studies. Asked about their aspirations, Nadine explained that she wants to become a doctor while Viviane would like to get a university degree in English.

Madagascar greatly needs young people trained in medicine and English, so both students will have a lot to give back to their communities when they get their degrees. In supporting the lives of young women with great potential, the Girls’ Education Fund contributes to United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 4 and 5 for Quality Education and Gender Equality respectively. The Girls’ Education Fund joins the MIA Green carbon capture initiative as a perennial activity that will be scaled as increased brand sales grow the 1 for Change programme.

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