Tongole Foundation, Malawi

A commercial concern supporting a local community..

Tongole Foundation - providing schooling for the local community

In a little known corner of Malawi, near the beautiful Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve (managaed by African Parks), a wonderful project has flourished that now nutures the nearby community that it serves (more of the story below). The major investor, David Cole, and his local Malawian partner, Bentry Kalanga, have created both a lovely lodge but also a caring charitable foundation.


Tongole Wilderness Lodge was started following a tragic car accident of Vitu Kalanga, a Malawian boy who had migrated to the UK with his family to train as Doctor, which his family was very excited about. Hannah Cole was Vitu's girlfriend and her family too were really crushed by this sudden and tragic death of the very friendly and vibrant young life.

The two families decided to establish a safari Eco-lodge with a difference. The Tongole Wilderness Lodge project was established with two objectives in mind.

Firstly, to establish a business that will be Eco-friendly and which will create employment opportunities for local people and to fulfil this, most of the unskilled labourers on the project were from the communities around. After the construction period, a third (33) of the unskilled labourers have been trained in various skills and employed on full time.

Secondly, the project was established to provide a sustainable link between tourism, conservation and communities around the reserve. Over three years, the Tongole Foundation has built new classrooms, sanitation in schools and school supplies such as stationary and so on. The TF has recently embarked on a new school build that will enable 350 children to learn in a new school environment. The foundation's work in basic education is impacting over 2,000 children.

Tongole wilderness Lodge is truly a lodge with a difference! A tragedy of one family impacting positively many lives of children and community in very deprived areas around the Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve!


Many people in the Nkhotakota district of Malawi, live in extreme poverty; The Tongole Foundation was set up to meet the social, economic and environmental needs of the some of the most vulnerable communities within the region through education, training and employment, whilst encouraging support for the protection of the Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve.

It is widely known that if a vulnerable and rare natural habitat has any chance of being adequately protected, it’s crucial that the local community must be fully involved and find it beneficial to support the cause.

The foundation focuses on two core objectives:

To create a sustainable business (Tongole Wilderness Lodge), creating desperately rare employment and training opportunities in a deprived part of Malawi.

To found a children’s education charity that provides support to local schools.

Sustainable business

The Wilderness Lodge took over two years to build, creating over 100 jobs for local tradesmen during that time. Once the lodge was complete, over 30 people from the local community were employed on a full-time basis. Typically for every employed person, twenty people are directly affected!

Children’s charity

The Tongole Foundation initially supports three local schools (with long-term aims to include more). Currently the foundation is working with The Mwalawatongole F.P. School, Wozi J.P. School and Chankhokwe F.P. School and using the funds provided by the foundation, work has included vital storm-damage repairs to classrooms and school buildings, mending the school roof and installation of toilet blocks.

Through employment and the education, The Tongole Foundation actively works to reduce the poaching rate in the Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, promoting the conservation of endangered species and there are currently discussions underway to reintroduce a few species of wildlife back into the region.

Meet the Team at the Tongole Foundation


Go back to: Not for profit organisations


Malawi: Tongole, a place of passion and hope by Nigel Richardson at The Telegraph - Feb 2013

How to rebuild a park – the revival of Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve by Travel Africa 2019

The one that nearly got away by Travel Africa 2019