Representatives of the corporate world have asked sports association and government to put their house in order to attract more companies to sponsor sports.
The representatives said this on Wednesday in Blantyre at a meeting organised by Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture.
Malawi National Council of Sports invited 47 Blantyre-based companies to find out from them why they shun sponsoring sports, but only seven turned up.
However, the few that turned up made it clear that they are not willing to sponsor sports because of the chaotic organisation of sports associations and government’s lack of incentives for sponsors.
Nyasa Manufacturing Company finance director Fleetwood Haiya , whose firm sponsors TNM Super League heavyweights, Nyasa Big Bullets, said government should put in place a mechanism that would make sponsoring sports flexible.
He said: “When it comes to the corporate, the investors are looking at the returns on their investment. You need to understand that if you are to convince them of sponsoring anything, they need to understand why and what are the benefits.
“As we stand today, every money that you put in for sponsorship is taxed. It’s more like you also pay tax on money that you are putting into sports sponsorship, unless if you have to go and beg for special incentives to Malawi Revenue Authority [MRA].”
Premier Bet chief executive officer Milos Jovanovic bluntly said there is no value in sponsoring sports in the country.
“You need to understand that this is a business for us. We are not a charity or an NGO [non-governmental organisation]. For whatever we do, we expect something in return. We are investing shareholders money.
“Sponsorship is about investing money, getting exposure and brand awareness. CSR [corporate social responsibility] on the other hand, is about contributing to the society and it’s something most of the companies already do.
“From the business side of sponsorship, companies expect something in return. But here we don’t have tax benefits and it makes no sense. Something has to be done in terms of taxation,” he said.
National Bank of Malawi (NBM) plc corporate affairs manager Annie Magola said her brand is put off by violence and hooliganism.
She said: “We have on several occasions been attacked by supporters who are coming from a football match after their team has lost. They are not angry at National Bank. They are angry that their team has lost and in the process they start throwing stones at people and destroying things.
“As a bank. mostly our board members, have lost trust. Every time we are putting a proposal to sponsor football, they say why should we sponsor a sport which in return damages property?”
Rab Processors marketing manager Anthony Mafuwa, whose company sponsors Southern Region Football Association’s Premier League and Blantyre and District Netball League, bemoaned sports associations’ lack of seriousness.
“There have been a couple of times that we have had to meet officials of associations in their cars. It kind of puts off potential sponsors. My CEO cannot meet someone in a car,” he said.
FDH Bank head of marketing Levie Nkunika said government should spearhead formulation of long-term sports strategic plans.
“As FDH Bank, a truly Malawian Bank, we are fully committed to support the development of sports and that is the reason we have sponsorship at grassroots and national level totalling K500 million. Government needs to come up with medium and long term plans,” he said.
Responding to the sentiments, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Francis Phiso said his ministry would take action.
“It has been a very enriching meeting. Companies were free to express their views. I have come out of the meeting well informed.
“We will also have similar meetings in Lilongwe and Mzuzu. This is the first step in promoting development of sports in the country,” he said.
Premier Bet, FDH Bank, Monolux Paints, Nyasa Manufacturing Company, Rab Processors Limited, NBM officials attended the meeting.