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PCL seeks equity investors in Malawi Telecommunications
June 24, 2022 / Saidi Winnes

Malawi’s largest publicly listed conglomerate Press Corporation Limited (PCL) says it is seeking equity investors to take over its stake in Malawi Telecommunications Limited (MTL).

“The PCL Group has decided to exit MTL and discussions with equity investors in the fixed telephony business are at an advanced stage,” says PCL in its summary of audited results for the year ended December 2021.

Meanwhile, the conglomerate has cast a dark shadow on Malawi’s economy doubting that the country will meet its projected 4.1% Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth for 2022.

PCL says the invasion of Ukraine by Russia has adversely impacted on the commodity market of petroleum, fertilizer and food products.

In the statement co-signed by Chairman Randson Mwadiwa and Acting CEO Lyton Chithambo, the conglomerate, however, says despite the challenging operating environment, it is geared to continue restructuring the business portfolio so that the momentum gained in 2021 is translated into even better performance for 2022.

Mwadiwa and Chithambo say: “Although the operating environment remains challenging considering the key macroeconomic fundamentals such as inflation, foreign currency depreciation and interest rates, the Group will keep adapting,”.

“The focus of the Group is to expand its portfolio by investing in viable new projects, implementing turn-around strategies in its business and consolidating gains made in the existing restructured and streamlined portfolios.”

They say the Group has made a remarkable performance in 2021 during a tough operating environment when the country was still managing the effects of Covid-19 pandemic related challenges and forex scarcity.

The Group delivered an exceptional performance underlined by a 126% growth in profit after tax to K45.131 billion when compared to K19.974 billion achieved in 2020.

Among its subsidiaries, National Bank of Malawi performed strongly in 2021 as the Bank’s profit after tax grew by 48% to K33.3 billion (2020: K22.5 billion) driven by a K44% increase in net interest and investment income and a 45% growth in non interest income.

“This was a result of the growth in assets, mainly the loan book which grew by 20% and Government securities by 63%,” states Mwadiwa and Chithambo.

The telecommunications segment, which comprises mobile phone company; TNM, and the fixed telephony and broad band company; MTL, also performed strongly with the segment registering a 54% growth in its profit after tax of K8.3 billion (2020: K5.4 billion).

TNM registered a profitability growth of 24%, thus signalizing the potency of the various recovery initiatives put in place, while MTL on the other hand reported a significant improvement in its results driven by improved gross margins and cost containment, which resulted in a loss reduction of 46% from prior year. The PCL Group has decided to exit MTL and discussions with equity investors in the fixed telephony business are at an advanced stage.

Glue Up Eyes Malawi’s Digital Market
June 16, 2022 / Charles Mkula

As world business is becoming more digital, different enterprises in Malawi including the civil society are also embracing automation to improve productivity and sustainability. 

Glue Up, is a global software company with offices based in South Africa. It specializes in providing member-based organizations with digital solutions focused on automation and engagement. The company is offering to bridge the divide by providing solutions that are already integrated and tested so that customers benefit more. 

Itumeleng Selowa, a Sales Development Representative at Glue Up says the company has merged automation solutions and digitalization applications to enable different tools that most organizations use every day to communicate and interact with each other. These integrations will make work easier for staff and give members better digital experiences. 

“We have an all-in-one platform, which has proven to be the easiest way to cost-effectively retain, engage, grow, and build institutions’ beneficiary communities. This is achieved by consolidating the best event management, membership management, community engagement, email marketing, CRM, finance, analytics, tasks, and mobile apps on one easy-to-use platform,” says Selowa. 

The membership management ecosystem helps in identifying outstanding membership payments and sends renewal reminders through automated emails and push notifications. Selowa says the platform also has an application that promotes an institution’s public events by sharing them via email campaigns and on social media. 

“We also make it easy for community members to find like-minded people and topics that matter to them so they can network with each other and exchange their opinions,” she adds as she points out that Glue Up also includes a community engagement module that connects members to the organization and to each other. 

“The ‘My Glue’ community engagement module is a database with a member directory, member benefits, member profile, subscription management, community networking and event information,” says the sales rep.

She adds that the community engagement module also provides latest news as well as gives members the opportunity to modify their profiles, register for events, read email campaigns, network, and more. 

Realizing that members may be found in different locations, Glue Up has flexed its finance module by allowing members to pay using their favorite payment methods with full visibility into all their digital transaction history. 

“Automatic invoices and receipts are issued and members are assured of refund where necessary as we have a customizable refund policy,” Selowa points out. 

The Glue Up platform not only offers improved services for members or customers of an organization, it also creates surveys, quizzes, and polls to help organizations measure and understand feedback so that they can improve their services and show members that their opinions are valued. 

The Glue Up application can manage registrations, review member applications, collect payments, make quick edits, and facilitate smooth check-ins onsite to carry out successful events from anywhere. 

Glue Up has a team of customer success experts ready to support new organizations. Glue Up also provides hands-on training to equip organizations with full knowledge of the software.

Civil society group calls for youth friendly business start-up requirements
May 26, 2022 / Bester Kayaye

My Community, My Responsibility (MCMRO), a local civil society group, says that apart from the economic depression being experienced across the world, some of Malawi’s policies contribute to the country’s stagnation as they do not support youth participation by offering conducive business start-up incentives.

The organisation’s director, Brian Khembo, says prohibitive business regulatory requirements frustrates aspiring youths from registering and operating formal businesses in the country.

Khembo told Mining and Trade Review  that MCMR will soon be engaging government to consider revising some business regulatory policies that pose unreasonable challenges to setting up businesses.

He points out that one of the challenges include business certification processes which he says does not support youth economic transformation.

“Young entrepreneurs and youth led organisations in Malawi are finding it difficult to operate in Malawi due to unrealistic lengthy and costly business regulatory processes,” Khembo says noting that the development is retrogressive to fighting the country’s high unemployment levels.

“There are business registration requirements which expect a start-up by an upcoming entrepreneur to possess similar facilities and liquidity with an established entity before getting a business license,” he observes citing challenges encountered by the youth-led businesses that want to enter the financial industry, regulated by the central bank, the Reserve Bank of Malawi. 

Khembo says to tackle some of these challenges, MCMR has launched a project dubbed “youth empowerment and entrepreneurship initiative,” aimed at highlighting youth business obstacles including human rights. 

Meanwhile, as one way of fighting for the economic rights of the youth, MCMRO has proposed for a Solidarity March to show that it stands with young entrepreneurs in Malawi.

Khembo says the march highlight the plight of Kondwani Phiri, CEO of Greenlights Portfolio, who is said to have been dragged to court by the Reserve Bank of Malawi for allegedly operating in the financial sector without a license. 

“We are of the opinion that this is a compliance issue, which the RBM would have just advised,” he opines.

ILLOVO on recovery path from impacts of Cyclone Ana
May 24, 2022 / Saidi Winnes

ILLOVO Sugar Malawi says it expects that medium-term agricultural operations and yields will improve following recovery from the impact of Cyclone Ana.

It, however, says in the short term reduced power supply from Electricity Generation Company (EGENCO), following the damage to Kapichira Hydro-Electric plant is anticipated to adversely impact operations.

In its unaudited financial statements for the six months ended 28 February 2022 co-signed by MD Lekani Katandula and Chairman Gavin Dalgleish, the leading sugar producer says a return to better weather patterns and the benefits of drip irrigation are expected to further support the agricultural yield improvement programs.

Katandula and Dalgleish state: “It is expected that medium-term agricultural operations and yields will improve following recovery from the impact of the cyclone. In the short term, reduced power supply from EGENCO following the damage to Kapichira Hydro-Electric Power Plant is anticipated to adversely impact operations.”

“However, a return to better weather patterns and the benefits of drip irrigation are expected to further support the agricultural yield improvement programs. Following the successful off crop maintenance program, additional focus on optimal factory recovery and preventive maintenance should enable both plants achieve better throughput for the rest of the year.”

Illovo sugar also says Inflation, bank interest rates and exchange rates for the Malawi Kwacha against major trading currencies will continue to have a notable impact on profitability for its business.

Katandula and Dalgleish, nonetheless, say the Group will continue to apply significant effort at cost reduction, operational efficiency, and sales growth in the interest of continued increase in profitability and a marked contribution to a thriving Malawian community.

 “The business will continue to invest in commercial and logistical operations through commendable product and service quality, direct delivery of sugar to the end consumer, refinement of approaches to the very challenging deep water and other export markets, marketing promotions and other sales activation initiatives as it tries to maximize value for all its stakeholders.”

MITC invites business community to 2022 Commonwealth Business Forum
May 19, 2022 / Wahard Betha

The country’s investment and trade promotion and facilitation agency, the Malawi Investment and Trade Centre (MITC), has urged local business community to patronise the upcoming 2022 Commonwealth Business Forum expected to take place in Kigali in Rwanda from June 21 to 23, 2022.

This year’s Commonwealth Business Forum will be held alongside the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) which is scheduled for June 20 to 25, 2022.

MITC Chief Executive Officer Paul Kwengwere said the business forum is expected to attract business captains from various sectors such as finance, agriculture, tourism, and healthcare among others.

Kwengwere said the business forum will provide good platforms for networking and building business partnerships.

He said: “We are always encouraging the business community to take advantage of events such as these because they are the right place to network, make business connections and also learn more of other business opportunities that can help them to grow.”

“We believe this event will help our private sector to discover business opportunities within the commonwealth and also be able to identify ways in which they can connect with the Commonwealth market to further their growth strategies.”

The business forum which will feature networking sessions and presentations will be held under the theme ‘Delivering a common future: Connecting, Innovating, Transforming.

CHOGM is a pivotal agenda-setting and decision-making space for the diverse community of 54 Commonwealth countries.

Commonwealth leaders meet every two years for CHOGM, which is hosted by different member countries on a rotational basis.

Since 1971, a total of 25 meetings have been held, with the most recent being in the UK in 2018

Apart from the Commonwealth Business Forum, MITC is also calling all private sector companies to attend the forth coming Lusaka Business indaba and Expo scheduled for May 27th to 28th in Lusaka, Zambia.

According to Kwengwere, the business indaba is aimed at discussing ways in which businesses can access finance to drive their growth and also explore market opportunities available in Lusaka for businesses to take advantage of.

Kwengwere stressed that there are a lot of business opportunities that Malawi can take advantage of in Zambia especially when it comes to supply of various goods and services.

“It is also pleasing to note that the indaba is focusing on how businesses can access finance and markets which is critical to our private sector players.”

“So as MITC we are encouraging the business community to attend this important meeting because we know it will help them to gain knowledge on available market opportunities in Lusaka but also it offers them an opportunity to interact with financiers who will be attending the event.”

As a Government agency, MITC identifies, develops and packages investment opportunities in Malawi; provides a professional service to all clientele; brands and markets Malawi as an investment destination; retains and expands trade and export activities and links opportunities to the developmental needs of the Malawi community.

MITC also operates as a One-Stop Service Centre for business start-ups in Malawi.

Youths challenged to develop solution based businesses
May 01, 2022 / Bester Kayaye

Youths in the country have been challenged to develop bankable and solution based businesses in an effort to spark Malawi’s economic growth in line with vision 2063.

The challenge was made by Wealth Malawi MD Harry Chima during the opening of “The Eagles Nest Entrepreneurs Start up Masterclass aimed at equipping entrepreneurs with marketable skills on how to excel in their endeavours amidst the current economic hardships held at Mount Soche Hotel in Blantyre.

At the meeting, participants were drilled on how to position and package themselves to meet the required standards to secure finances from prospective financial institutions.

Chima observed that entrepreneurs are the driving force behind any economy, as they set up new businesses and industrial units which help with regional development.

He said: “These forums are aimed at bringing together entrepreneurs aspiring to endeavour in various sectors so that we empower them with vital tools required for them to excel in their business as we bring in relevant topics to meet the needs of start-up enterprises.”

“In these workshops we also make sure we bring experts in different fields so that they can share hands on industrial experiences in order for the entrepreneurs to know what to expect from the industry and how to dive through opposing currents in business.”

In his remarks, one of the participants Kelvin Dimba highlighted that the masterclass has helped him to attain more insight on how to advance his operations.

Dimba said; “The workshop has been an eye opener for me as a start-up entrepreneur, because there are many challenges on our way being at an infant stage ranging from financing, teabuilding, decision making and marketing among others, hence the workshop has helped to elaborate on all important areas. And it has also helped us to network with likeminded individuals on how to grow our businesses.”

Approximately 50% of Malawi’s GDP is from income generated from both formal and informal small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and 89% of employed people work in the informal sector.

Malawi to commemorate 7th Buy Malawi Day
March 12, 2022 / Wahard Betha

After 7 years of launching and implementing the Buy Malawi Strategy, Government and Malawian business operators will March 18 commemorate the initiative by showcasing a wide spectrum of locally produced products at the Gateway Mall in the capital city, Lilongwe.

The Malawi Government through the Ministry of Trade and Industry introduced the strategy as a way to promote production and consumption of locally produced goods and services.

Led by the Minister of Trade and Industry, Mark Katsonga, government is calling on local residents, visitors and travelers to celebrate the day, which has become an annual event, by buying and consuming locally produced goods products and services.

“The Buy Malawi Day is an important foundation of the Buy Malawi Strategy, which boosts the production and consumption of locally produced goods and services,” says Katsonga.

The minister points out that apart from instilling patriotism, the culture and lifestyle of embracing local products ”will substantially stimulate competitiveness of local firms, industrialization and, job creation.”

Katsonga advises local industries to intently seek produce or service feedback from both their individual and corporate customers in order to get relevant input so that they keep improving and building their competitiveness and satisfying the needs of their local and export markets.

As one way of showcasing local identity and oneness, Katsonga urges all private firms and all institutions to set aside a particular day or days of the commemoration week to wear locally made clothes to foster the Buy Malawi Strategy as well as to empower local designers and tailors, who make up a good proportion of local micro, small and medium entrepreneurs.

He calls on commercial banks to take a vigilant role in the promotion of the strategy by facilitating affordable financial services to innovative enterprises that produce goods and services locally.

He further appeals to land authorities across the country to prioritize allocation of pieces of land to enterprises and investors that intend to promote local products for both the local and international markets.

“Public servants should continue wearing clothes designed and manufactured in Malawi every Friday,” the minister says adding wholesalers, retailers and general distributors must ensure adequate stocks and visibility of local merchandise in visible shops.

According to a draft report of the Malawi FinScope 2019 indicates that Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in the country continues facing challenges including low information technology penetration and low investment in research, science and technology.

Despite the challenges faced in the sector, the report show that the MSMEs in Malawi contribute a significant share of employment.

The overall Malawi MSME sector is estimated to consist of 1,141,784 business owners registering an increase of about 50 percent from 758,758 in 2012.

About 11 percent of the population own MSMEs and employs approximately 1,825,219 people 1,260,118 in 2012.

Standard Bank banks on mining to spearhead economic recovery
March 11, 2022 / Jane Gondwe

Standard Bank has forecast that Malawi’s economic recovery will continue in 2022 with growth forecast to reach 4.1% driven by rebounds in manufacturing, mining and quarrying, construction, transportation and electricity, gas and water supply.

In a statement announcing financial results for the year ended December 31, 2021, the Bank, however, says despite the economic growth prospects, the pressure on the exchange rate will likely continue on the back of weak foreign exchange supply.

“Upward pressures on inflation rate will likely remain in the first half largely driven by supply constraints,” states the Bank.

In the year under review, the group says it continued to operate in a challenging operating environment as the demand for foreign currency continued to outweigh supply.

“This resulted in the depreciation of the Malawi kwacha and the expectation is for the Kwacha to depreciate further as we head 2022. Covid-19 also continued to affect business which in turn impacted credit growth and transactability,” reads the statement

The domestic economy is estimated to have grown by 3.9% in 2021 from 0.9% in 2020 following solid performance in the agriculture, mining, quarrying and construction sectors.

 In response to rising oil prices, global supply chain constraints and seasonal fluctuations in domestic food prices, global supply chain headline inflation picked up in the year and averaged 9.3% compared to 8.6% in 2020.

 The Kwacha depreciated against the United States dollar by close to 6% in 2021compared to about 3% in 2020 owing to weak foreign exchange supply.

Standard Bank’s profit after tax of MK24.8 billion was 4% above the prior year, and total revenue grew by 31% year on year driven by growth on both net interest income and non-interest revenue

Insurance company joins green initiative campaign
February 15, 2022 / Bester Kayaye

One of the local insurance firms in the country, General Alliance Insurance Limited says it is committed to work with different stakeholders in conserving environment through afforestation.

The company’s head of corporate affairs, Pamela Mazengela made the remarks during a tree planting exercise in Michiru Forest.

The campaign sponsored by General Alliance Insurance Limited, with 2,000 tree seedlings is promoted by Sustain Green Campaign.

According to Mazengela the 2,000 seedlings are an initial contribution for this year’s tree planting season. Other contributions are expected to be made to various stakeholders across the country.

She said; “We donated trees to sustain a green Malawi as part of our corporate social responsibility and giving back to the environment having realized the impact of carbon emissions from the vehicles we insurer has on the environment.”

“This is just a preamble as we plan to plant trees in Blantyre, Lilongwe Mzuzu and Zomba.”

In her remarks, Idah Mbalume who is a plantation manager at Michiru forest commended General Alliance for the gesture saying that it has complimented their efforts in restoring vegetative cover of the forest which has encountered several setbacks in previous years.

Mbalume said; “It is imperative that corporate entities like General Alliance are coming our way with these tree planting exercises which is very welcoming, as it helps us to save on labour costs since we have limited capacity to recruit more labourers to work on this forest.”

“As Michiru forest we intend to plant at least 20 thousand tree seedlings during this year’s tree planting season, and I would therefore urge other companies to emulate the good gesture portrayed by this insurance firm in giving back to environment.”

The Sustain Green Campaign which runs under hashtag #Plant4TheFuture initiative,  is comprised of 22 young people who found synergy on creating solutions for reforestation and their goal is to plant 1million trees across Malawi in areas highly affected with deforestation as well as creating awareness in primary schools by involving students to plant trees at the campus and in their homes.