Debbie Viggs is a Malawian woman fighting for acceleration of Africa’s development and poverty reduction through her three international organisations she founded. She is providing a platform for African entrepreneurs, especially women, to develop their businesses on the international market. She is also heads a religious ministry called Debbie Banda Ministries International (DBMI). She talks to Dumase Zgambo-Mapemba
Who is Debbie Viggs?
I am an apostle, successful business woman, a mother and wife. Prior to starting my own businesses, I worked for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington DC for 10 years and America Online (AOL). I was born in 1971 in Lusaka, Zambia but was raised in Malawi. My mother, Charity Banda, hails from Chipata in Zambia and Kasungu in Malawi. My father, Phillip Masika Banda is from Nkhata Bay. I live in the United States of America (USA). I am married to a wonderful French-Togolese man, Vinny Viggs. We have been married for four years. I have two sons from my first marriage aged 22 and 19. I have an older brother, two younger sisters and a cousin from my late aunt. My young sisters are both successful women. One is a medical doctor at Johns Hopkins Hospital and the other is a senior officer at USAID. They two live in the USA.
What does your husband do?
My husband is a civil engineer and we jointly own Viggs Solar, Inc; a solar power company. He was born in Togo but lived most of his life in Senegal.
What is your academic background?
I attended Treetop Nursery and International School of Lusaka in Zambia; Hillview International Primary School, Providence Secondary School, Chichiri Secondary School, Malamulo Secondary School in Malawi. I then went to South-End High, Indiana University, Marymount University, University of Phoenix, and Light University in the USA.
Give us your professional backgrounds.
I have a Bachelor of Science in Business with a concentration in Small Business Management and Entrepreneurship; Bachelor of Science in Information Technology; Bachelor of Science in Nursing; Associate Degree in Ministry Training and Development. I am also a certified Christian Life Purpose coach.
How did you find yourself in the USA?
My mother used to work for the World Bank Group in Washington DC and we (all her children and cousin) left Malawi to join her.
What do the international organisations you founded do?
Africa Investment Council (AIC) is a non-profit organisation, established to accelerate Africa’s development and poverty reduction. AIC serves as the host body for the promotion and advancement of the African private sector, enabling it to compete favourably in the global market place. Through annual events, the AIC mobilises and dispatches investible funds, innovative models and technology, and business skills into Africa.
Africa-USA Women Council (AUWCO) links women from Africa and USA on the global stage as respected and vital participants in the economy, social and political arenas.
Marketplace Networking Forum International is a public relations, consulting and special events firm that specialises in the areas of fashion, beauty, and home decor. Our mission is to assist women entrepreneurs in the areas of fashion, beauty & home decor to explore international trade and investment opportunities in Africa and the USA through high level conferences. Our Business Expo Forums provide opportunities for foreign investors to operate in Africa and encourage African and foreign businesses to forge business partnerships.
Debbie Banda Ministries International (DBMI) is a prayer, healing and deliverance ministry committed to continual prayer and to the ministry of the word of God. Our mission is to establish the Kingdom of God in the nations, cities, families, and the body of Christ in the earth in preparation for the return of Jesus Christ our Lord. We achieve our mission through teaching & training Christians around the world how to pray powerful effective prayers for successful living, how to manifest the healing power of God for their lives through scripture, and how they may become more deeply and intimately acquainted with God.
What prompted you to set them up?
I have a passion for helping people to become successful especially those in Sub-Saharan Africa.
What challenges do you face in each organisation and how do you overcome them?
Running the day-to-day operations of the businesses and programme management of each organisation comes with different challenges. However, I always strive to do the best that I can. Whatever I cannot do, I don’t stress over it. I give equal time to each organisation. My trust in God to help me run these organisations is what makes me succeed.
What have been the overall achievements of these organisations?
There are too many achievements to be listed. We have had successful high level conferences through the years–Africa Business Forum 2000, Africa Business Forum 2007, and Business Women’s Conference 2008, among others. We will be having the official inauguration of the Africa-USA Women’s Council from September 24 to 26 2013 in New York. It will be hosted by United Nations (UN), United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), African Union (AU), Citibank and other sponsors. Our organisations have hosted several successful African Fashion shows resulting in lucrative business opportunities for designers. We have forged partnerships with entrepreneurs throughout the world. Most of all, we have provided training to African women entrepreneurs to become successful in their enterprises. We plan to expand and open offices in Sub-Saharan Africa.
How has Malawi benefitted from your organisation?
We are in the process of registering a branch of Debbie Banda Ministries International (DBMI) – Women of Purpose Foundation–in Malawi as a non-governmental organisation (NGO). So far, we have been financially supporting orphans and vulnerable children together with our partner Pashello Trust Charitable Organisation (founded by Mrs. Felia Malola) through monthly donations. We plan to introduce training programmes for women entrepreneurs in Malawi in 2014 and to offer them free training that would help them succeed in their enterprises and to also help them to get connected to other entrepreneurs to compete favourably in the global market. We plan to host a business forum for women entrepreneurs in Africa in 2014. It will be in Lilongwe. Through our Women of Purpose Foundation, we have plans to set-up healing centres, orphanages and schools.
What are your hobbies?
I love reading and spending time with my children and husband.
What type of local food do you like?
I like Nsima, fish and masamba otendera.