CH25: Melissa Kushner

Reinventing philanthropy to do greater good for Malawi’s children

“I lost my father three weeks before I was born, so I was hardwired to care about children who have lost one or more parents,” Melissa Kushner explains. Her fate was sealed when shortly after graduating from college she landed a job working with the former head of UNICEF Malawi. Moved by what she learned, Kushner founded Goods for Good at age 26 to aid Malawi’s 1.3 million orphans and vulnerable children.

As an atypical non-profit—rather than dump money once a year, build a school and call it a day—Goods for Good instead focuses on long-term sustainability. This translates into microenterprise and strengthening locally funded and run community-based organizations (CBOs), from extracurricular activities to feeding programs. “They are basically a one-stop-shop for all vulnerable children in the community,” Kushner explains, adding, “The amazing thing about these CBOs is that they are founded by the community, for the community.” To solve the problem of what amounts to the poor caring for the poorer, her organization provides goods to these CBOs and works in partnership with them to launch medium-sized businesses.

Read more about Kushner on her official CH25 profile.

Illustration by Jason Ratliff, images courtesy of Goods for Good