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Commonwealth Youth Network partners to host “I am an Entrepreneur” conference
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Commonwealth Youth Network partners to host “I am an Entrepreneur” conference

The Commonwealth Alliance of Young Entrepreneurs (CAYE)-Southern Africa partnered with the Youth to Youth Empowerment Network and Invest in Youth Initiative to hold the “I am an Entrepreneur” event in Mzuzu, Malawi, on 16 January 2016. The aim of the conference was to provide knowledge to small and medium-scale business owners, as well as prospective entrepreneurs, about the legal process of establishing a business, taxation, bank lending rates, and capital financing.

Read this report by Wangiwe Joanna Kambuzi, one of the lead organisers and a board member of CAYE Southern Africa.

Approximately 200 delegates gathered at the “I am an Entrepreneur”  business conference. The atmosphere was electric and the hype was really exciting. The main sponsor for the event was TEVETA, represented by its Regional Manager-North, Mrs Conceptor Bamusi Kachoka.

Kicking off the event was a speech by Mr Dan Msowoya, the Board Chairperson for Youth and Society, who highlighted the integration of the youth in the development agenda. He pointed out that Malawian young people are less aggressive when it comes to issues regarding entrepreneurship and continued to say the lack of the country’s capacity affects entrepreneurs in Malawi. “You need to be trained, have a robust experience in entrepreneurship to be a vibrant entrepreneur,” he said.

Going forward, Mathias Botha from the Registrar’s Office delivered a presentation on the legal process of establishing a business. “A business must be registered for proper transaction costs,” he said. Adding to Mr Botha’s words, Susan Makwakwa of the MRA facilitated a discussion on taxation.

Gedson Kamkuwe, Branch Manager of FDH Bank, Mzuzu, then facilitated a presentation on understanding the impact of lending rates on small and medium scale businesses. FDH Bank is one of the commercial banks that supports SMEs in Malawi and they have lower interest rates compared to other banks. Mr Kamkuwe noted that young people have fears when it comes to borrowing money from banks, and encouraged them to get free business advisory services from his company.

The guest speaker from Portugal, Mr Filipe Jose, led a presentation on funding opportunities for small and medium enterprises. He compared receiving a bank loan to a marriage, and stressed that young entrepreneurs had to prove they are trustworthy for that marriage to last. He cautioned young entrepreneurs to use such loans for investments and not for personal consumption.

The conference concluded with a forum which comprised seven panellists including officials from FDH Bank, the MRA, the Registrar’s Office, TEVETA and two entrepreneurs. The main topic of discussion was the challenges and opportunities that young entrepreneurs face in Malawi, and comments on a Policy Guide on Youth Entrepreneurship developed by the Commonwealth and UNCTAD.

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