FDH Financial Holdings Limited group chief executive officer (CEO) Thom Mpinganjira has reiterated the need for business operators to be ethical in their dealings, stressing that reputation is key to success.
In his presentation titled Building a Business Empire at the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Malawi (Icam) corporate gurus conference in Lilongwe on Wednesday whose copy Business News was shared he said ethical behaviour has to be the lifestyle in any business.
“Your reputation is the quickest way into high places in business and society. If you mess up once, you are finished,” he said.
Mpinganjira said above all else, one has to put God first and that a business requires what he called a spiritual return on investment through corporate social responsibility.
Speaking at the event, which attracted business gurus and CEOs, he advised that businesses have to build a trusted team and identify a set of skills and attitude to support the culture of the brand to build.
Mpinganjira said business operators should take smaller risks at the beginning and adjust growth gradually.
“Forget big goals; take gradual steps for small daily wins. You will hit many walls, you will fall many times, people will laugh at you but you must remain steadfast in your goals.
“Pick yourself up, dust yourself up and start all over again,” said Mpinganjira, who was the first Malawian stockbroker and CEO of Stockbrokers Malawi Limited from 1997 to 2000.
His advice perhaps mirrors what he went through during his business journey.
Mpinganjira recalled one of the many frustrations he got when he wanted to acquire a licence for First Discount House from the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM).
“In November 2000, I submitted the licence application. [The defunct] MDC [Malawi Development Corporation] agreed to take up 55 percent of the shareholding while I remained with 45 percent.
“The original plan had been that MDC takes 25 percent and the five of us take 15 percent each,” he said, adding that during that process, three of the four colleagues bowed out of the idea.
He said RBM, after a long drawn out discussion, approved the licence in principle but the then minister of Finance rejected the application on April 5 2001 because the Government of Malawi had agreed with the International Monetary Fund and World Bank to get out of the financial services sector; hence, MDC was, therefore, not allowed to get into this new venture with First Discount House.
Mpinganjira said he resubmitted the licence after partnering with others and on July 20, they were given a licence.
Speaking earlier, Icam chairperson of Continuous Professional Development, Admission and Membership David Mhango said a population that does not tap into the well of wisdom of its great leaders risks collapsing.
“Great leaders are great because they defied all odds to make a difference.
“As Icam, we take the initiative to be futuristic and we come up with products and services that resonate with the trends of the future building on the success of the present,” he said.