They are three young men from diverse professions on a mission, but share a common vision—a great passion in transforming Malawi through technological advancements.
Meet Kondwani Mshali, a theologian, Emmanuel Chatima, a physiotherapist and Steven Ng’oma, a statistician.
The three have become leaders in their own right as innovators in technology.
Mshali is founder of Neytech Solutions, a company that produces software, mobile Apps and develops websites for businesses and churches.
Chatima is founder of Online Clinic Yathu (Ocliya), an online platform for health service provision. Ngoma’s Mind Foundation offers technological awareness and skill development among children.
The three found their niche in technological innovations through Jobs for Youth (J4Y), a project Malawi Government is implementing through the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
The project aims at economic empowerment for the youth through improved employability in decent work and sustainable entrepreneurship.
The three young innovators are among the 1 080 youths that have benefited from J4Y Project.
The trio enrolled in the project after applying to an advert floated by mHub, a host working with the ministry to impart skills in the youth with interest in technology.
Mshali’s love for computers started at the age of 14. He learnt fixing phones out of passion while in secondary school. His desire for technology grew even at tertiary level when he was pursuing a course in theology in Zambia.
“I always researched about computers and how I can use them to improve people’s lives,” he says.
After graduating in 2018, Mshali got employed with a non-governmental organisation called Global Hope as monitoring and evaluation officer. Luckily, his passion in computers remained intact despite the nature of his work.
The new opening through J4Y Project provided a fertile ground for his passion.
“The opportunity to make a living out of my passion and serve communities through technology motivated me to enroll in the programme,” he says.
Mshali registered Neytech Solutions in 2019 after completing a six-month incubation programme under J4Y.
The firm, with nine employees, now provides business solutions to 20 clients and is in the process of spawning new innovations.
“We are developing software that can be used by village banks without Internet connection and another that can easily facilitate e-learning in our schools,” says Mshali.
For Chatima, the genesis of his Ocliya is traced back to his internship at Kamuzu Central Hospital where he started exploring ways of improving provision of health care services to Malawians.
“I observed that medical practitioners in Malawi do not provide healthcare services right in people’s homes unlike in other countries.
“I, therefore, started Ocliya to provide home medical services such as consultation, physiotherapy, nursing and doctor’s visits through an online platform,” says Chatima, who trained as a physiotherapist, at the College of Medicine , a constituent college of the University of Malawi (Unima).
He adds that Ocliya has undergone rapid expansion since his graduation from the incubation programme.
“It is now registered with Medical Council of Malawi and handles an average of 70 patients from 30 a few months ago. We also outsource services from other medical practitioners for our clients,” says Chatima.
Steven Ng’oma’s Mind Foundation is a centre for stimulating interest in arts and technology among children.
“We help children to master skills in apps development, drone and robotic technology, animation and videography,” says Ng’oma, a Bachelor of Science graduate with a major in statistics from Chancellor College, another Unima constituent college.
Working with several children, Ng’oma and his team have developed a number of ground-breaking innovations.
They include a model drone, which can carry a two-kilogramme load within a 30-kilometre radius; a bionic arm that can help amputees regain use of lost arm and a robotic hand sanitiser.
“The programme has exposed us to the world. We are getting more support internationally, but we also hope for increased recognition locally,” says Ng’oma.
Business incubation manager for J4Y at mHub, Blessings Chavula, says the centre has so far hosted 112 incubates which includes 25 females.
He adds that out of the 112 incubates, 39 graduates own well-established enterprises.
“The programme promotes self-employment among the youth through maximum utilisation of their skills and knowledge,” says Chavula, adding that this is key in reducing high unemployment rates in Malawi.
Currently, youth unemployment in Malawi stands at 23 percent, according to the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
Malawi Government is pleased with the impact J4Y is having, especially in generating youth employment.
“The project has proved that the youth are capable of creating jobs for themselves and other people.
“Surely, this project will be instrumental in government’s plan of creating one million jobs,” says Minister of Youth and Sports Ulemu Msungama.
He further says his ministry will recommend extension of the project, which intends to create 17 000 jobs as one way of reducing youth unemployment in Malawi.
Msungama adds that government is looking for ways of supporting J4Y graduates.
“One option is to link them to financial programmes such as Malawi Enterprise Development Fund in boosting their businesses with capital investments to stimulate more job creation opportunities,” he says.
The African Development Bank has pumped in K9 billion towards J4Y Project, which started in January 2017 and will run up to December this year.
“The world talks about the youth taking the lead. I can testify that this programme has helped me to step up and take a role in making the world better,” says Chatima.