ENTREPRENEURIAL SPARK FROM IDEAS MALAWI
What is the real power of an idea? The world around us is a reflection of the power and influence of ideas that have become tangible through action. Entrepreneurship is a topic that has been hot and trending for some time now, in Malawi and across the globe. Starting your own business is a result of having an idea you believe will make you money or make a difference in society, and sometimes both. According to the Small Business Association, only 30% of new businesses fail during the first two years of being open, 50 % during the first five years and 66% during the first 10. The bottom-line is that entrepreneurship is no easy feat, it needs a combination of passion, knowledge and drive amongst other qualities to lay a good foundation for long-term success.
Ideas Malawi is a youth-led organization established in 2018 dedicated to developing the next generation of outstanding successful entrepreneurs who are on the journey to shaping the Malawian economy for the better through great leadership and business skills. It exists to address one of the challenges most Malawian youth face which is the know-how in creating and sustaining a successful business.
Information about entrepreneurship is lacking especially in rural areas where access to learning resources and funds are limited and, in some areas, non-existent. Another challenge is the lack of platforms that can facilitate dialogue and partnerships between young aspiring entrepreneurs and experienced entrepreneurs in both urban and rural areas. Most have no experience of working in an imperfect market let alone how to maneuver through market inefficiencies, lack of capital and lack of effective policies and regulations that would assist them in making informed business decisions.
They hosted their first annual event as Ideas Malawi earlier this year at BICC, the Young Entrepreneurs Summit (YES), which brought young entrepreneurs, stakeholders and potential partners together under one roof to share ideas and experiences on how to shape the different sectors within the Malawian economy. Having different entrepreneurs from a wide range of sectors, such as agriculture, arts, and energy, provided those who attended interesting insights into knowledge they might not have come across in their circles.
The summit is about pushing Malawian entrepreneurs forward and giving them a voice to speak about available opportunities and challenges faced in their industries, Christina Chilimba says. She is the co-founder of IDEAS Malawi. The engagement amongst attendees, partners and stakeholders, provided feedback that points towards the need to mobilize more resources towards making available such networking and business growth opportunities all young people across Malawi.
The YES summit also made it easier to create a young entrepreneurs’ network she adds. To support their move towards creating such a platform, they have developed a YES social networking site tailored to make networking and sharing of ideas easier. Establishing and aspiring entrepreneurs, along with students and stakeholders can connect, learn, ideate and catalyze sustainable business solutions to local challenges and share entrepreneurial opportunities. People of all age groups and professions are encouraged to register as it will help in effectively tackling the issues that are commonly faced by young Malawian entrepreneurs.
It is not a game of individuality, but that of numbers so we need to come together as young people to demand solutions and push forward our issues and opportunities, Christina says. Teamwork through the platform, events and programs is aimed at making a big difference. The downloadable mobile app for the YES social networking site will soon be available on Android and iOS.
Apart from the Young Entrepreneurs Summit, IDEAS Malawi have other programs that young people can sign up for which include their incubator and accelerator programs, 40 Under 40 campaign, Impact/Innovate, IDEAS for Social Development Goals just to mention a few. All these programs have as their core values principles they believe will contribute to making their activities effective and impactful. They believe young entrepreneurs need to share responsibilities of being accountable in running their businesses and impacting the communities around them. They also encourage young people to lead change with integrity by becoming active in their learning and creativity as this will lead to more diversity and innovation.
With IDEAS’ aim to economically empower young people, the legacy of young entrepreneurs in Malawi can be one that will assist in ultimately reducing youth poverty through their objectives to support the development of youth-run businesses. Coaching, mentoring and training young entrepreneurs in business development and leadership along with providing access to financial information and capital will help establish an entrepreneurial culture coupled with advocacy and knowledge sharing. Job creation and skill placements for the youth will also be one of the outcomes of working with youth in urban and rural areas, especially those who are disadvantaged when it comes to social economic issues such as employment and entrepreneurial opportunities.
The key message and information we wanted people to walk away with was the importance of creating the value of entrepreneurship we want to see in Malawi through collaborations amongst young people, organizations and individuals to make an impact across the nation, says Christina.
Partners, stakeholders and organizations are welcome to join in with them in the execution of activities and programs that are centered around young entrepreneurs. The Young Entrepreneurs Summit will be an annual event dedicated to providing a platform that will help young Malawians master the art of doing business.