Malawi’s Vice President Dr Saulos Chilima on Tuesday appealed to commercial banks to move in and rescue local innovative young entrepreneurs with capital which he said is a major barrier to youth entrepreneurship.
Speaking in Lilongwe during the Youth Entrepreneurship Forum organised by Standard Bank of Malawi, Chilima said entrepreneurship has become a remedy the rising unemployment.
“The growing population against shrinking or slowly growing economies and advancement in technology which is making industries tilt towards capital intensive techniques have led to reduction of net effect on employment,” he said.
Added Chilima:”In Malawi, lack of capital is the major barrier and believed to be at 52 percent. Banks have a crucial role in promoting youth entrepreneurship. Statistics show that Malawi has yet to fully benefit from the markets access it has within the region and beyond.”
Among others, Chilima said through the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA), Malawi has access to the US$18.5 trillion dollar USA economy, through the Everything But Arms (EBA) initiative, the country has duty free and quota free access to the US$16.5 trillion European Union (EU) market and through bilateral trade agreement, Malawi has access to US$10.8 trillion China market.
He added that the combined US$46.8 trillion market plus the COMESA-EAC – SADC tripartite free trade area worth US$1 trillion market is supplemented by other bilateral trade agreements such as with India and other countries.
“So Malawi is not a small economy if you follow the concept of positivity well. The country’s GDP and that of the USA put together is around $19 trillion. Therefore, empowering the youth to engage in meaningful entrepreneurship will enhance Malawi’s capacity to maximise benefits from the trade agreements,” said the Vice President.
“The market access means that proper financing and guidance of youth enterprises may not be a risk undertaking by banks. To ensure that banks benefit youth entrepreneurship, banks can also go an extra mile by establishing a proper monitoring system on credit administration and utilisation,” he added.
Chilima said on its part, government is doing a lot to harness youth entrepreneurship, citing the establishment of Small and medium Enterprises Development Institute (SMEDI), One village One Product (OVOP), Youth Enterprise Development Fund (YEDEF) (which was merged with Malawi Rural Development Fund to form the current Malawi Enterprise Development Fund ) and the establishing of Community Technical Colleges to develop skills for the youth.
Advice to young entrepreneurs
The Vice President took the opportunity to advise young entrepreneurs to believe in themselves and start with what they have.
“Life is not perfect. Start small, start with what you have. Disappointments will be there but the beauty is that out of disappointments comes clarity and with clarity comes conviction and true originality,” he said.
He also urged them to be decisive in life, stressing that while consulting is crucial but life changing decisions are made by oneself.
“I always tell people that business or personal decisions are not general elections for everyone to participate,” he said.
He also urged young entrepreneurs to desist from living larger.
“Control insatiable appetites. Reinvest your profits. Avoid those expensive gadgets and cars once you start making millions. Financial discipline is crucial to entrepreneurship.”
In his remarks, Standard Bank Chief Executive Andrew Mashanda said Malawi needs to grow by at least five percent to become a middle-income economy with per capita income of about $1000.
“Malawi is predominantly rural, therefore we must prioritise on building strong rural economies with the youth, with the right infrastructure in place, and wealth can be created anywhere. Economies that want to achieve sustainable economic growth and development are technology – and knowledge-based,” he said.
The forum, organised by Standard Bank and UNICEF, attracted a cross section of people including speakers from Israel and was held under the theme Youth Entrepreneurship Creating Opportunities to build Malawi.
The forum also attracted various young entrepreneurs including Rachel Sibande who founded Mhub, a thriving social enterprise that sells technology solutions.
The Master of Ceremony himself was Gospel Kazako, a radio mogul and entrepreneur who founded Zodiak Broadcasting Station after working for state broadcaster MBC.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :