Who we are
Widge Woolsey – CEO of Ufulu
Widge Woolsey set up UFULU when she realised that the majority of women in Malawi live in total period poverty. Whilst on leave in 2018, Widge stayed on Likoma, an island in the northern part of Lake Malawi – and discovered that the women there have little or no access to sanitary products. She felt that in the 21st century, when most people have access to mobile phones, that this was just not right
Widge has over 20 years of experience in logistics & administration and has travelled extensively throughout Africa. She has worked in corporate finance, start up technology firms, charitable organisations and in the film and hospitality industries in Africa. Her love of Africa (especially Malawi) as well as a desire to help the women of Likoma Island, led her to set up Ufulu, to try and make some positive changes in the world. She strongly believes that no girl should miss out on her education, just because she has her period.
Widge splits her time between Henley and Malawi. She reckons her greatest achievements in life (in no particular order) are working on a BBC Wildlife documentary, setting up Ufulu and gaining a chainsaw licence!
Nandi Mwakhwawa – Workshop Manager
Nandi is the reason why Ufulu was created. She grew up and lives on Likoma Island, on Lake Malawi. She first met Widge in 2018 and it is because of one conversation the two of them had, that Ufulu came about. Nandi told Widge that she had used rags as sanitary protection for 20 years. She explained how uncomfortable, unhygienic, smelly and unsuitable they were and was then brave enough to show Widge what they looked like, despite how embarrassing a confession she found it.
Nandi has a certificate in Women’s Health and Hygiene and already provides free contraception and information on safe sex practices to the population of Likoma Island. She is the proud mother of 3 boys and lives with her mother and sisters in Nkwazi village. She has embraced the role of workshop manager and is truly amazing at organising & running workshops, as well as follow-up individual 1-2-1 meetings. Ufulu could not run without her and she is a positive and impressive role model for women and girls in her community.
John Cutts – Ufulu Trustee
John was the first Trustee to sign up to Ufulu and was introduced to Widge by her father. After starting work as an engineer at Rolls Royce and a period in European property asset management, John joined Amsterdam Rotterdam Bank, before becoming Managing Director & Head of Corporate Finance at EBC AmroBank in 1985.
Following a period as Executive Director of European Mergers & Acquisitions at Samuel Montagu & Co, John was appointed Head of European Corporate Finance at the WestLBGroup. After joining Pall Mall Capital in 2000, John acquired and recapitalised the company in 2001.
John has a degree from the University of Sussex and a MBA from INSEAD and sits on both their Endowment Committee and International Council. He was also the Chairman of Integrity Action, an NGO committed to reduce corruption.
Louise Robinson – Ufulu Trustee
Louise has known Widge since they were at school together. Louise is currently working as IT Product Management Leader for the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). She is a qualified accountant and business analyst, with nearly 25 years of experience in IT and operations.
Louise lives in London with her partner James and a selection of exotic fish. In her spare time she loves to be outside, whether it’s running on Wimbledon Common, walking along the Thames or pottering around the garden.
Louise is looking forward to visiting Widge in Malawi to see the work done by Ufulu for herself and the difference being made to the lives of the women and girls who live there.
Nicky Crosbie – Ufulu Trustee
Nicky works at Christie Manson & Woods Ltd, where she is the Director, HR Business Partner. She has been there since 2012 and before that was HR Director at a digital marketing communications agency, Digital Outlook. Nicky has extensive generalist HR experience across arts, digital, music, entertainment, media & creative sectors.
Nicky and Widge first met at Swansea University and have stayed close friends ever since. Nicky lives in north London with her husband Mark. She is a keen diver and is looking forward to seeing what Lake Malawi has to offer when she goes out to see the work that Ufulu is doing.
Nicky became a trustee for Ufulu Malawi because she wanted to support Widge and help make a difference for young girls and women in Malawi. She also felt, that after many years working in highly successful businesses, it was time to give something back.
Annie Gray – Ufulu Trustee
A ‘Geordie’ in the south with a heart based in the country, Annie moved to Henley on Thames six years ago having been born and bred in Northumberland. She initially worked in the events & business development sector. She was then approached to become involved in the opening of an independent coffee shop /deli in central Henley, a business she has now run and grown for the last three and a half years. Working in Henley provided her the opportunity to meet Widge.
From the moment Annie heard about Ufulu it struck a chord within her. She knew it was a project she wanted to help and be involved with. Being asked to join as a trustee was an immense compliment and she is looking forward to helping to continue to grow both the charity itself, and global awareness of period poverty. Annie lives with her boyfriend Scott and their Jack Russell, Fergus.