The National Planning Commission, in collaboration with the Ministry of Youth and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), on Tuesday, January 11, 2022 held a panel discussion on opportunities and challenges in trade and industry in support of the implementation of the Malawi 2063 (MW2063) national vision whose main aim is wealth creation through industrialisation.
The panel discussion, held under the topic ‘Youths in Trade and Industry: Opportunities and Challenges’, took place at the Crossroads Hotel in Lilongwe, with panellists comprising several renowned young entrepreneurs and senior officials from the ministries of Industry and Trade.
It was moderated by Nthanda Manduwi – owner of Bien Corporation Africa, with panellists including Kombeza Foods proprietor Dingase Teweta, Walla Limited chief executive officer Priscilla Sani-Chimwele and Honey Products managing director Mathews Dunga.
Some of the opportunities highlighted by the entrepreneurs included looking at challenges facing the country as business opportunities, readily available resources like internet and the mushrooming of business incubation hubs supporting start-up entrepreneurs and innovations among the youths.
“Young people need a mindset change shift to, among other things, start looking at the various challenges facing the country as business opportunities,” said Chimwele.
On the other hand, the youths outlined some challenges, including low access to capital, hostile business environment, lack of policy incentives targeting young entrepreneurs, unwillingness among some big retailers and wholesalers to stock local products and skills gap amongst many youths.
“We still have some big chain stores that don’t want to stock products from budding enterprises. That’s why, for example, you don’t find Kombeza yoghurt in some of the big retail shops,” complained Teweta.
Director of Trade in the Ministry of Trade Charity Musonzo said the government is committed to promoting entrepreneurship, including among the youths, and that it was among other things reviewing some policies such as the National Trade Policy and the Buy Malawi Strategy to promote production and consumption at local level, among other initiatives.
“As a ministry, we fully support the Malawi 2063 and we are aware that trade is key for its realisation. That is why we are now aligning all our policies, strategies and interventions to the national vision,” said Musonzo.
On his part, Secretary for Marginalised Small and Medium Enterprises in the Ministry of Industry, Francis Zhuwao, called on the youths to come together and work through partnerships or cooperatives as that is what will give them strength to ably explore various business opportunities available in the country.
“Research shows that majority of enterprises in Malawi are one-man shows, without even any employee. This makes the businesses weak and without capacity to explore opportunities. As young people, learn to work together to make yourselves stronger,” said Zhuwao.
In his remarks, National Planning Commission Director General Dr. Thomas Munthali said effective implementation of the MW2063 and its First 10-Year Implementation Plan (MIP-1) will require strong and vibrant youth-run enterprises as the vision was dependent on the participation of the youth as its key stakeholders.
“This year 2022 is for action. We have to be practical by making sure that what is discussed in forums like these translate into action on the ground, both among the youths and policy makers,” said Munthali.