Over the years, I have been asking myself several questions; Why are young educated Malawians not supported with funds to initiate viable businesses? Why do the Government of Malawi and donors always support the poor who have not assisted very much in improving the economy of this country? Why do politically motivated development frameworks favour the rural youth who do not have much to offer? Why are the middle managers being neglected in our development agenda?
Despite these unanswered questions, empirical evidence clearly shows that young professionals and middle managers (Malawians that have been to colleges) are the ones contributing positively to the development of the country. This is the group that is employing fellow Malawians, contributing to taxes, supporting rural developments, feeding the nation and educating other Malawians. This is the group that is providing technical and policy advice to politicians and other groups.
Regrettably, these managers and professionals are heavily taxed, are denied access to bank loans and have limited access to government subsidies or soft loans, do not have land for development, lacks support to initiate public-private partnerships and,, in some cases, lack training for entrepreneurship.
Today, there is no deliberate effort by the government to start looking at how they can engage these Malawians effectively. Yet, this group can easily and efficiently feed the nation than using the so called poor and needy farmers. They can also create more jobs in different sectors much faster and easier than the so called rural poor youth. Further, they can utilise technologies efficiently and effectively than the dominated poor rural women. This group understands international issues than the so called political youths. Indeed this is the group that require little investment in terms of training, developing business skills, expanding non-farm income sources, transforming rural areas and creating international partners. If empowered, the group can absorb most of the unemployed graduates whose education was heavily subsidised by the government and even create employment for the poor rural youth and women.
The challenge with the current approach to development which is mostly advocated by politicians is that most of the economic activities will be dominated by non-Malawians. As such, the country will continue to consume and not export, all foreign currency will be externalised, food insecurity will continue to rise, rural-urban migration will escalate, environmental degradation will be the norm of the day, social insecurity will increase and regrettably, some people will continue to justify that Malawi is among the poorest countries in the world.
Based on these observations and development outcomes, I seriously suggest that the country should start pondering over the above questions. The country should reflect on how middle and professional Malawians can transform and revolutionise the agricultural sector. A sector that does not depend on maize alone; the country requires banking or financing system that can support these men and women to increase the economic status of this country. We need to engage this group so that they can support the government to reduce its dependence of donor aid.
As a country, we need to find ways and means for helping the small scale entrepreneurs to upscale their businesses. For example, some are in beef production business with 10 animals, they need support to keep at least 500 animals. Some have three hectares of banana production; they have the capacity to increase to 30ha. Some are in the Clearing and Forwarding business, they need to join the tourism sector. Those with small shops would like to join manufacturing or mining. Some are not working at all; they need to support the country as volunteers first and then be entrepreneurs.
In conclusion, there is need to put up a development framework that will engage educated Malawians and professionals for national prosperity. A framework that will bank on available skills and opportunities and not based on tribe, gender, race or political affiliation. This type of approach will require very little input from politicians. To me, this approach can support the so called poor people much better than engaging in politically motivated development agenda that support few individuals and allowing too many players to control our development initiatives. I rest my case.