Strathclyde’s first Beit scholars graduate

Beit Scholars Madalitso Chikumbanje (left) and Kim White

The first students to study at Strathclyde under Beit Scholarships graduate this week.

Madalitso Chikumbanje from Blantyre, Malawi and Kim White from Mutare, Zimbabwe will graduate with an MSc in Electrical Engineering with Business and MSc Product Design respectively.

Both students secured scholarships last year from The Beit Trust, established in 1906 by the Will of Alfred Beit, a financier and director of the British South Africa Company.

New partnership

This was the first time Strathclyde joined forces with the Beit Scholarships and Mada and Kim have been at the vanguard of this new partnership.

Mada, who works with Malawi’s national electricity supply company ESCOM, said: “I was very excited to win this scholarship and finally have an opportunity to study a course of my interest at Strathclyde.

“I have known and coveted a place in this University since my undergraduate days in Malawi and the prospect of seeing that dream come true was just amazing!

“I wanted to develop myself as an engineer and get ready for changes that are coming to the electricity market in Malawi which is just beginning to be deregulated. Access to electricity is very low in Malawi – about 10% of the population have power in their homes, mostly from hydroelectric sources

“This programme has sharpened my critical thinking and research skills which are also crucial in my current role with ESCOM. The knowledge and experience I have acquired here will be key in helping me to make significant contributions to the transformation of the power sector in Malawi because in addition to our work within ESCOM we are also closely working together with the government to inform policy and decisions.

“We also assume a significant role in the recently-liberalised electricity market in Malawi especially in the planning of generation and transmission infrastructure.”

Mada was also selected for the Best MSc Student Award from Strathclyde’s Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering. 

Kim, who has started his own company called ZimBowTies which sells bowties made in Zimbabwe from off-cuts off colourful traditional dress material, said: “Finding out I had won this scholarship was like winning the lottery.

“One of the best experiences has been the exposure to a community of international students. It sounds corny but I feel like I just became a citizen of the world!

“I now have so many connections to places that were once just a funny shape and name on the map. And far more important that getting holiday opportunities, it's been fascinating to learn about different countries and cultures, gain some new perspectives, and most importantly appreciate just how much I have to offer thanks to my own unique background and experiences.

“The product design course has really given me a holistic view of product design and I appreciate far more the actual role that a product designer has to play in the entire life cycle of a product from its conception to disposal.

“The entrepreneurial support services are unlike anything I've been exposed to before and they have helped link me to useful resources within the university but also some great external connections such as the SIE too. Strathclyde stresses their motto of ‘the place of useful learning’ and the entrepreneurial drive here has helped underline that for me.”

Jane Andrews, International Development Manager in Research and Knowledge Exchange Services, said: “We’ve been delighted to welcome students with Beit Scholarships to Strathclyde and have been hugely impressed with both Mada and Kim.

“Strathclyde is committed to working with partners in Africa on mutually-beneficial projects. Our Malawi Programme has developed extensive partnerships to tackle key challenges in community health, water access, primary education and energy access.

“The Energy for Development team at Strathclyde have supported community based renewable energy developments in Gambia and Malawi, bringing energy to more than 80,000 people.

“With their extensive experience of the Malawian energy sector, it was easy to develop Mada’s research into something of real value for his employer. Our academic community is continually developing new collaborative partnerships and enterprising students like Kim open the door to ever more opportunities. He is a great ambassador for Strathclyde’s international alumni community.”

Beit Trust offers a number of postgraduate scholarships abroad to graduates living in Malawi, Zambia or Zimbabwe to study in the UK or South Africa.